Adam Schiff is connecting the dots. And he just discovered something in Don Jr.’s testimony that could spell BIG trouble for the President.
Every day, we are getting closer and closer to criminal charges against Donald Trump. And on Thursday, Don Jr. did nothing to slow that down. In fact, it looks like he just sped the process up.
Jr. met with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators for five hours on Thursday to answer questions about a meeting he had with Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and the Russians at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. Originally, Jr. said that the meeting was all about Russian adoptions. That was clearly a lie. And since then, his story has changed a few times.
From the point that this now infamous meeting became public, everyone on team Trump insisted that the President, then candidate, had no knowledge of Jr.’s meeting. We’ve heard this over and over. But Thursday afternoon Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) noticed something very interesting.
Schiff made a post on social media titled, “Donald Trump Jr.’s new statement about June 2016 Trump Tower meeting is significant both in what is included & what is excluded. Here’s why.”
Schiff’s statement reads,
“Today’s written statement by Donald Trump Jr. released to the media about the now infamous June 9, 2016 meeting held with Russian intermediaries, including Natalia Veselnitskaya, raises more questions than it answers, much like the statements he and President Trump drafted and released after the first revelations of the meeting. We look forward to having these and other questions answered when he appears before the House Intelligence Committee.
On first reading of this new statement, here is what I find remarkable:
The new statement is significant both in what is included, and what is excluded, when compared to earlier explanations. Although the new statement appears to tracks almost every line of Trump Jr.’s prior comments on Twitter, this statement contains a notable omission, in that it no longer mentions that President Trump ‘knew nothing of the meeting or these events,’ raising questions about whether then-candidate Trump was in fact knowledgeable about the meeting in advance, and whether it formed the basis of his contemporaneous public promise of derogatory information about Secretary Clinton.
The statement also for the first time includes the argument that Trump Jr. sought information ‘concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate’ and considered whether he would ‘consult with counsel.’ This is far afield of the impression he originally conveyed about a meeting ‘about adoptions.’ Of course, Trump Jr.’s own public release of his emails shows that the meeting was not focused on questions of Clinton’s qualifications for office, but instead involved ‘very high level and sensitive information’ on ‘Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump’ – information which Trump Jr. said he ‘loved’ and hoped to use ‘later in the summer.’ For the first time, this newest statement also admits to the existence of three other phone calls between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov.”
“The fact that Trump Jr. acknowledges taking the meeting along with two other top campaign officials, now White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, during a time in which the nomination was to be contested at the convention, also highlights how significant the campaign viewed the promise of dirt on their opponent from the Russian government. Trump Jr.’s expression of disappointment that the meeting did not focus solely on this sensitive information, only underscores what he and the campaign hoped to gain from the meeting.
Finally, that Trump Jr. apparently knew he should consult a lawyer before or after the meeting is an admission that he knew what he was doing raised serious questions of legality and propriety.”
Jr. is admitting now that they at least tried to collude with the Russians. And if it turns out that Trump did in fact know about it, that opens the President up to criminal charges. It’s starting to look less like “if” and a whole lot more like “when.”