Many words describe Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Smart is not among them.
But after the torrent of claims that Moscow “meddled” in the 2016 presidential election, it is remarkable that when a Russian actually showed up to meet with Trump campaign officials, she did not interfere after all. Rather, Veselnitskaya allegedly spent 20 minutes seeking a softening of U.S. sanctions against Russia. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, left after 10 minutes. Campaign manager Paul Manafort focused on his email. No one followed up.
It is a fair inference that Manafort and Kushner attended to prevent the meeting from becoming a political embarrassment. They failed.
In today’s white-hot partisan environment, it has escaped notice that it is not a crime to meet a Russian. Obviously, there are circumstances where it would be improper or even illegal for a political campaign official to conspire with a Russian, but the known facts of the June 2016 meeting do not come close. This conclusion should be revisited if it turns out that the campaign provided Veselnitskaya’s plane ticket or had other financial arrangements with her.
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