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Was Donald Trump Jr.'s Russian Meeting a Criminal Act?
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Last week, The New York Times revealed that in June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and chief confidant; Paul Manafort, Trump’s then-campaign chief executive; and others met secretly at Trump Tower with a former Russian prosecutor and a former Soviet counterintelligence agent to discuss what negative (most likely computer-generated) information the Russians might have to offer them about Hillary Clinton.

Within days of the meeting, the elder Trump announced publicly that he would soon release a litany of reasons why Clinton was unqualified to be president and that they would include new allegations about Clinton and Russia. The new allegations did not come.

When the Times reporters asked the younger Trump about the meeting last week, he initially claimed it concerned Americans adopting Russian babies. Then he claimed it was about Russian concerns over American economic sanctions on select Russians. When the reporters told him they had his emails, which tell a different story, he released his emails to the public so as to beat the Times to the punch.

Then, media hell broke loose about whether the Trump campaign was working with the Russians to acquire information about Clinton, and, particularly, whether any Trump campaign officials engaged in criminal behavior.
Here is the backstory:

No seasoned campaign official would have met with foreign people, particularly former government officials, in order to discuss any materials they might have about an opponent, because the acquisition of materials from a foreign person or government is illegal under federal law. The inquiry that Donald Jr. received from a friend who served as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Russians should have been run past the campaign’s legal counsel, who no doubt would have told his colleagues to stay clear of such a proposed meeting, and then reported the overture to the FBI.

Donald Jr. claims that the meeting lasted 20 to 30 minutes and produced nothing of value or of interest to the campaign. Yet the emails paint a picture of him as hungry for dirt on Hillary (“if it’s what you say I love it,” he wrote), and ready, willing and able to meet with the Russians to see what they had.

Was Donald Jr.’s meeting a criminal act?

Standing alone, the meeting itself was probably not a criminal act. But the varying versions of it that have been given by the president and his son (Were you lying then, or are you lying now?); and the failure of Kushner, who has a national security clearance, to advise the FBI of it in his application for the security clearance (Did you not know they were Russians?); and the presence of an ex-Soviet counterintelligence agent (Did you not know he had been a spy?) at the meeting all give rise to the level of articulable suspicion, which is the constitutional minimum standard to commence a criminal investigation.

ORDER IT NOW

In this case — where the Department of Justice has named a special counsel to examine the role of Russian agents in the 2016 presidential election — the articulable suspicion standard will surely trigger the special counsel’s involvement. Stated differently, while the Trump Tower meeting alone was probably not a criminal act because speech unaccompanied by behavior or agreement is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, its existence alone is enough to cause the special counsel to commence a criminal investigation of the participants to determine whether a crime was committed then and there, or elsewhere.

I have been listening for more than a week to many of my respected colleagues asking, “Where is the crime?” and I understand their inquiry. Yet the crimes for which the special counsel is looking rarely fit into a neat package. Unlike a bank robber who uses a gun to get cash from a bank teller — a crime that has a beginning and an end — white-collar crime often involves nuance and mental state and the behavior of third parties sometimes unknown to the original participants.

Thus, an FBI agent or Department of Justice lawyer might compare the Trump Tower meeting to a thief displaying stolen jewelry to a group of potential purchasers, who initially rejected the jewelry. And thus, the feds might want to know whether others decided to view the jewelry, or whether there was a meeting of some of the minds at Trump Tower but perhaps Donald Jr. was excluded from such an assembly. As well, they might inquire as to whether this was an attempt to use foreign people to gather data about Clinton.

We know it is a felony for a campaign official to accept something of value from a foreign national or a foreign government; and we know that because campaigns legally pay folks to do opposition research, that research is a thing of value. It is a felony for a campaign official to conspire to acquire a thing of value from a foreign national, even if the thing of value never arrives. It is also a felony for a campaign official to take a material step in furtherance of acquiring a thing of value from a foreign national, even if the thing of value never comes. And it is a felony for anyone without a search warrant to facilitate computer hacking for any purpose.

All this brings us back to Donald Jr.’s meeting. Was it a crime? We will need to await the outcome of the FBI’s investigation and the DOJ’s presentations to a grand jury. But we do know that the harm to the Trump presidency, much of it caused by those close to the president and the president himself, continues its dark march. Where will it end?

Copyright 2017 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by Creators.com.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, Russia 
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  1. and the presence of an ex-Soviet counterintelligence agent (Did you not know he had been a spy?)

    You need to get your facts straight. Apparently the Rinat Akhmetshin guy served in — was drafted into — the Soviet Army (what – 30-35 years ago?) with the highest rank of sergeant, which was, in the Soviet army, a soldier’s rank. And that’s, apparently, the whole basis for declaring him ‘ex-counterintelligence agent’ and a ‘spy’, by the fake-news media. What bullshit.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    There was no "declaring" here. Rinat's position in the army WAS working in counter-intelligence.
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  2. As the French say, it’s worse than a crime; it is a blunder. Junior is held out as not being an idiot, but he is still relatively inexperienced and perhaps not sceptical enough to fill these roles.

    Read More
  3. Standing alone, the meeting itself was probably not a criminal act. But the … [bla bla bla] …. all give rise to the level of articulable suspicion, which is the constitutional minimum standard to commence a criminal investigation.

    You’ve got to be kidding me. After 9 months of media hysteria fueled by incessant leaks from your Deep State masters, you finally have an “articulable suspicion!” Shove it already.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "You’ve got to be kidding me. After 9 months of media hysteria fueled by incessant leaks from your Deep State masters, you finally have an “articulable suspicion!” Shove it already."

    It is an extremely complicated case. Could be something here, or nothing at all. We don't know.
  4. Speaking of Manafort, funny how the media fails to pound it into our heads that the Ukrainians provided the Hillary campaign with dirt on Manafort sufficient to sink the guy.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446

    But I guess that when it happens to the Democrats it doesn’t count, just as it doesn’t count when Obama murders Muslims, destroys countries, and deports Mexicans.

    Read More
  5. “[T]he acquisition of materials from a foreign person or government is illegal under federal law”. Really? What’s the statute? I want to read it and the case law.
    I went to China on business. While there I “received materials from a foreign person”. So? Everyone who goes overseas may break this law. Suppose someone went to China and was given a copy of the New York Times or a candy bar. Would such a gift qualify under Napolitano’s law as criminal?
    Suppose foreigners did collect information about Hillary? So what? Why is that criminal? Could Americans have been used? Would the use of Americans be illegal?
    Maybe you know “it is a felony for a campaign official to accept something of value from a foreign national or foreign government”. I don’t. What’s the statute?
    Does this apply to all foreign nations? Even Saudi Arabia? Even Israel? Even Mexico?
    Is discussing materials with a foreigner protected First Amendment speech? Or does the First Amendment only apply to discussions between Americans?

    Read More
  6. “We know it is a felony for a campaign official to accept something of value from a foreign national or a foreign government…”

    And yet AIPAC….oh, that’s right, those Israelis have dual citizenship.

    Read More
  7. This meeting took place when Trump Junior was enthusiastically helping with Dad’s election campaign, at a time when no one thought Trump had any chance of winning. He went over the top, and yes, of course Dad knew about it.

    In a just world politicians whose families behave like this would be punished by the voters, and maybe Trump still will be.

    In the meantime, let’s forget about this crap and about Russia, and focus on Trump’s utter failure to fulfil his campaign promises, particularly on health. Where is the better insurance program with cheaper premiums, lower deductibles, cheaper drugs that was promised both before and after the election. That is where Trump’s feet should be held to the fire.

    Also the US should get back to business as normal, following the American tradition of trying to influence the results of other countries’ elections. Who can forget Obama, just before the Brexit referendum, threatening Britain with unfavorable trade status if it voted for Brexit, and then Trump completely reversing the policy?

    Maybe the UK interfered in the US election, which is apparently fairly easy for anyone to do, as we now know. Let’s investigate whether Trump owns any golf courses in Britain, what was his role in the Scottish independence referendum. Did he sabotage Scottish independence as a quid pro quo for British support in his own election?

    If we want to pursue such theories, it could go on long after Trump is in his grave.

    Read More
  8. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    I own a crappy, made-in-China matrioshka. Does that make me an unlawful enemy combatant?

    Read More
  9. Corvinus says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    and the presence of an ex-Soviet counterintelligence agent (Did you not know he had been a spy?)
     
    You need to get your facts straight. Apparently the Rinat Akhmetshin guy served in -- was drafted into -- the Soviet Army (what - 30-35 years ago?) with the highest rank of sergeant, which was, in the Soviet army, a soldier's rank. And that's, apparently, the whole basis for declaring him 'ex-counterintelligence agent' and a 'spy', by the fake-news media. What bullshit.

    There was no “declaring” here. Rinat’s position in the army WAS working in counter-intelligence.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
    Enough bullshit, you don't know that he was "working in counter-intelligence". When he was 18 yo, he was drafted like everybody else, and sent to serve, as a soldier, at an army unit, where he was, most likely, washing the floors during the first year and forcing the new recruits to wash the floors during the second year. Like everybody else.

    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.hu/2017/07/the-new-york-times-exhumes-tailgunner.html
  10. Corvinus says:
    @Tim Howells

    Standing alone, the meeting itself was probably not a criminal act. But the ... [bla bla bla] .... all give rise to the level of articulable suspicion, which is the constitutional minimum standard to commence a criminal investigation.
     
    You've got to be kidding me. After 9 months of media hysteria fueled by incessant leaks from your Deep State masters, you finally have an "articulable suspicion!" Shove it already.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me. After 9 months of media hysteria fueled by incessant leaks from your Deep State masters, you finally have an “articulable suspicion!” Shove it already.”

    It is an extremely complicated case. Could be something here, or nothing at all. We don’t know.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    We don’t know.
     
    Yes, we do know. We know perfectly well what's happening. This time, clearly, this is a bullshit hysteria to shout over any mentioning of the recent meeting with Putin.
    , @Tim Howells
    What case? What is Trump even being accused of? After 9 months of Trump's mortal enemies in the Deep State doing their very worst all you have is vague innuendo about something not specified but possibly shady.
  11. Mikel says:

    “the acquisition of materials from a foreign person or government is illegal under federal law”

    Is Chistopher Steele, the author of the “Trump dossier”, not a foreign national (and a real former spy at that)?

    According to Wikipedia and the New York Times, this dossier was paid for by rival Republicans and later by Democrats: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Steele

    I’ve never heard anyone suggest that these people committed a criminal act.

    Read More
  12. @Corvinus
    There was no "declaring" here. Rinat's position in the army WAS working in counter-intelligence.

    Enough bullshit, you don’t know that he was “working in counter-intelligence”. When he was 18 yo, he was drafted like everybody else, and sent to serve, as a soldier, at an army unit, where he was, most likely, washing the floors during the first year and forcing the new recruits to wash the floors during the second year. Like everybody else.

    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.hu/2017/07/the-new-york-times-exhumes-tailgunner.html

    Read More
  13. @Corvinus
    "You’ve got to be kidding me. After 9 months of media hysteria fueled by incessant leaks from your Deep State masters, you finally have an “articulable suspicion!” Shove it already."

    It is an extremely complicated case. Could be something here, or nothing at all. We don't know.

    We don’t know.

    Yes, we do know. We know perfectly well what’s happening. This time, clearly, this is a bullshit hysteria to shout over any mentioning of the recent meeting with Putin.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    No, we don't know. If you want to be kept in the dark, and believe there is little to nothing to see here, be my guest.

    Consider this...

    http://www.ftvlive.com/sqsp-test/2017/7/18/hannity-vs-scarborough
  14. @Corvinus
    "You’ve got to be kidding me. After 9 months of media hysteria fueled by incessant leaks from your Deep State masters, you finally have an “articulable suspicion!” Shove it already."

    It is an extremely complicated case. Could be something here, or nothing at all. We don't know.

    What case? What is Trump even being accused of? After 9 months of Trump’s mortal enemies in the Deep State doing their very worst all you have is vague innuendo about something not specified but possibly shady.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "After 9 months of Trump’s mortal enemies in the Deep State doing their very worst all you have is vague innuendo about something not specified but possibly shady."

    You don't have a special prosecutor involved if it is merely "vague innuendo". Something is there. Could be substantial, or it could be nothing.
  15. Corvinus says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    We don’t know.
     
    Yes, we do know. We know perfectly well what's happening. This time, clearly, this is a bullshit hysteria to shout over any mentioning of the recent meeting with Putin.

    No, we don’t know. If you want to be kept in the dark, and believe there is little to nothing to see here, be my guest.

    Consider this…

    http://www.ftvlive.com/sqsp-test/2017/7/18/hannity-vs-scarborough

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
    What am I supposed to consider or else be kept in the dark? Trump's son met a woman named Natalia; what else is there?

    Why don't you consider this:

    Lavrov said that he was overcome with a profound feeling of "amused disbelief" after learning that the US media actually believes that a weirdo British music publicist and an even weirder Russian lawyer were enlisted by the Kremlin to contact Trump Jr. and offer him hot scoops about Hillary Clinton's nefarious activities in Russia.
     
    http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/lavrov-responds-allegation-kremlin-offered-trump-jr-dirt-clinton-are-you-serious/ri20356
  16. Corvinus says:
    @Tim Howells
    What case? What is Trump even being accused of? After 9 months of Trump's mortal enemies in the Deep State doing their very worst all you have is vague innuendo about something not specified but possibly shady.

    “After 9 months of Trump’s mortal enemies in the Deep State doing their very worst all you have is vague innuendo about something not specified but possibly shady.”

    You don’t have a special prosecutor involved if it is merely “vague innuendo”. Something is there. Could be substantial, or it could be nothing.

    Read More
  17. MEexpert says:

    “We know it is a felony for a campaign official to accept something of value from a foreign national or a foreign government…”

    What about Hillary Clinton receiving money from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar? What do the Clintons have to do before they can be tried as criminals? Isn’t that a felkony?In 2000 election, Al Gore received money from a Budhist group in Los Angeles.

    How did NYT found out about this meeting? Doesn’t that show that the Trump Tower was “Bugged” or monitored or whatever. Who is the leaker here. Why haven’t any of these leakers tried in the court of law?

    Read More
  18. @Corvinus
    No, we don't know. If you want to be kept in the dark, and believe there is little to nothing to see here, be my guest.

    Consider this...

    http://www.ftvlive.com/sqsp-test/2017/7/18/hannity-vs-scarborough

    What am I supposed to consider or else be kept in the dark? Trump’s son met a woman named Natalia; what else is there?

    Why don’t you consider this:

    Lavrov said that he was overcome with a profound feeling of “amused disbelief” after learning that the US media actually believes that a weirdo British music publicist and an even weirder Russian lawyer were enlisted by the Kremlin to contact Trump Jr. and offer him hot scoops about Hillary Clinton’s nefarious activities in Russia.

    http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/lavrov-responds-allegation-kremlin-offered-trump-jr-dirt-clinton-are-you-serious/ri20356

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    First, the story is a red herring.
    Second, the "weirdos" were befriended by Trump and his associates.
  19. Corvinus says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji
    What am I supposed to consider or else be kept in the dark? Trump's son met a woman named Natalia; what else is there?

    Why don't you consider this:

    Lavrov said that he was overcome with a profound feeling of "amused disbelief" after learning that the US media actually believes that a weirdo British music publicist and an even weirder Russian lawyer were enlisted by the Kremlin to contact Trump Jr. and offer him hot scoops about Hillary Clinton's nefarious activities in Russia.
     
    http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/lavrov-responds-allegation-kremlin-offered-trump-jr-dirt-clinton-are-you-serious/ri20356

    First, the story is a red herring.
    Second, the “weirdos” were befriended by Trump and his associates.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    Second, the “weirdos” were befriended by Trump and his associates
     
    Jeez. This is what they call 'paranoid state of mind'. Why don't you tell me about that Trump's server talking to an Alfa Bank server?
  20. @Corvinus
    First, the story is a red herring.
    Second, the "weirdos" were befriended by Trump and his associates.

    Second, the “weirdos” were befriended by Trump and his associates

    Jeez. This is what they call ‘paranoid state of mind’. Why don’t you tell me about that Trump’s server talking to an Alfa Bank server?

    Read More
  21. the raven says:

    But we do know that the harm to the Trump presidency, much of it caused by those close to the president and the president himself, continues its dark march.

    Trickle-down media whore status: confirmed.

    Read More
  22. Antiwar7 says:
    @Corvinus
    "After 9 months of Trump’s mortal enemies in the Deep State doing their very worst all you have is vague innuendo about something not specified but possibly shady."

    You don't have a special prosecutor involved if it is merely "vague innuendo". Something is there. Could be substantial, or it could be nothing.

    Your argument is an appeal to authority.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Your argument is an appeal to authority."

    In what regard? Be specific.
  23. Hugh says:

    The meeting took place in June 2016. It was a bust, with no useful information being delivered.

    This is evidence, indirect but still valuable, that there were no channels of communication between the Trump campaign and the Russian government at that time. Had there been, Trump Jnr. Could have verified the bonafides of these people before the meeting and avoided wasting his time.

    Without any real channel of communication “collusion” becomes impossible.

    Read More
  24. Corvinus says:
    @Antiwar7
    Your argument is an appeal to authority.

    “Your argument is an appeal to authority.”

    In what regard? Be specific.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Antiwar7
    So sorry, accidentally posted my reply as a new comment.
  25. Antiwar7 says:

    Your statement, “You don’t have a special prosecutor involved if it is merely ‘vague innuendo’.” You’re appealing to the authority of whoever decided to appoint a special prosecutor. That’s not evidence in itself.

    And that’s pretty obvious. Are you just wasting our time on Nato’s dime?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "You’re appealing to the authority of whoever decided to appoint a special prosecutor. That’s not evidence in itself."

    That authority had evidence procured by law enforcement to call for that special prosecutor. What that evidence entails is another matter.
  26. Antiwar7 says:
    @Corvinus
    "Your argument is an appeal to authority."

    In what regard? Be specific.

    So sorry, accidentally posted my reply as a new comment.

    Read More
  27. Corvinus says:
    @Antiwar7
    Your statement, "You don’t have a special prosecutor involved if it is merely 'vague innuendo'." You're appealing to the authority of whoever decided to appoint a special prosecutor. That's not evidence in itself.

    And that's pretty obvious. Are you just wasting our time on Nato's dime?

    “You’re appealing to the authority of whoever decided to appoint a special prosecutor. That’s not evidence in itself.”

    That authority had evidence procured by law enforcement to call for that special prosecutor. What that evidence entails is another matter.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Antiwar7
    I think at this point we're essentially in agreement. Evidence not publicly observable, not even publicly arguable, is not evidence to me. It's certainly not believable, especially with our authorities' long history of dissembling.
  28. Antiwar7 says:
    @Corvinus
    "You’re appealing to the authority of whoever decided to appoint a special prosecutor. That’s not evidence in itself."

    That authority had evidence procured by law enforcement to call for that special prosecutor. What that evidence entails is another matter.

    I think at this point we’re essentially in agreement. Evidence not publicly observable, not even publicly arguable, is not evidence to me. It’s certainly not believable, especially with our authorities’ long history of dissembling.

    Read More
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