Even if true, Lanny Davis' accusations don't amount to a crime
They don’t even add up to proof of the non-crime of “collusion.”
On July 26, CNN dropped its “bombshell” story that Michael Cohen was going to testify to Robert Mueller that he was present when Donald Trump was told his son would meet with various Russians. The Washington Post and the NY Post claimed they had “confirmed” the CNN account. Now, both papers have retracted their confirmation and admitted that the anonymous source was Cohen’s own attorney, former Clinton lawyer, Lanny Davis. https://theintercept.com/2018/08/28/cnn-credibly-accused-of-lying-to-its-audience-about-a-key-claim-in-its-blockbuster-cohen-story-refuses-to-comment/
All these corporate media have left out a much bigger side of the story from their coverage. Mueller can’t use what Michael Cohen has to say to indict Trump, even if it were true, for two reasons:
First, what Davis describes — a meeting between Russians and Don Jr. — is not, in itself, a crime. Without anything further, there is nothing about the Trump Tower meeting to form a criminal indictment.
Second, and specifically, evidence already obtained does not show the materials handed over by the Lady Lawyer were represented to have been illegally obtained. This point is important, but has been obscured so many times in the media that much of the public now believes that the Russians promised or actually gave Trump Hillary’s emails or some other illegal “dirt.” That may actually be the point. See, e.g., https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/19/politics/rudy-giuliani-trump-tower-meeting-clinton-dirt/index.html
In fact, a copy of stolen emails — or anything else stolen or illegally obtained — wasn’t even promised. On another level, the documentary record related to the Trump Tower meeting simply doesn’t contain proof of “collusion,” a much murkier term, or even sustain a finding that there is irrefutable evidence of intent to collude.
Legally, any charge of Conspiracy comes down to whether the “dirt” — as it has been called after the fact in the press — offered was acquired illegally, and evidence held by the Senate Judiciary Committee shows that it wasn’t. All that CNN, the Washington Post need do is go back and read the exhibits that are posted on-line, here, as we review them below: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/releases/materials-from-inquiry-into-circumstances-surrounding-trump-tower-meeting?peek=JnLNybHsog26L1cFm8AR63234MDsncYLzYhn7Ze9%2FdDXzs%2B6
There can be no Conspiracy charge for either Trump, Jr. or Sr., unless there is some other evidence that both took concrete acts in furtherance of an actual crime, or at least they intended to. Michael Cohen’s claims, even if corroborated, don’t come close to proving that. Sorry, nice try Lanny and CNN.
The Elements of a Federal Conspiracy Charge that Must be Proved
It really comes down to proving that Don Junior thought the materials dangled before him as bait to obtain the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian Lady Lawyer on June 9, 2016 were illegally obtained. The Donald, Sr. would also have to intend to further a criminal act, and know that it was a crime, for a federal Conspiracy charge to stick to him, and that would have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. There have to be “two or more guilty minds” in a criminal conspiracy. See, https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/conspiracy.html
It is not one bit clear that a criminal act took place. The documents offered by Rob Goldstone to Don Jr. were not described as the fruits of an actual crime, and it is not clear the Trumps even thought they were. As in any “sting” operation, the bait didn’t have to be real contraband (in this case, purloined Hillary or DNC emails), but the prosecution has to prove that the defendant thought they were.
Furthermore, there are a lot of steps in proving a federal Conspiracy charge, and they don’t all seem to be there in this case.
The Missing Evidence
Here’s what we know at this point.
June 9, 2016 — Veselnitskaya meets with Glenn Simpson, owner of Fusion GPS, just before and then has dinner with her after her Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and others in the candidate’s inner circle. “In an interview with NBC News, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya says she first received the supposedly incriminating information she brought to Trump Tower — describing alleged tax evasion and donations to Democrats — from Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS owner, who had been hired to conduct research in a New York federal court case.” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-dossier-firm-also-supplied-info-used-meeting-russians-trump-n819526
In another version as confirmed in court documents released by the Judiciary Committee last November, the Fusion GPS materials brought to the Trump Tower meeting was in “the form of a four-page memo carried by Veselnitskaya. She also shared Simpson’s work with Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general of Russia. Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee earlier [that same] week that he did not know that Veselnitskaya provided the Browder information to Chaika or to Donald Trump Jr., the Trump campaign’s point-man in the Trump Tower meeting.” http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/21/unsealed-fusion-gps-bank-records-show-russia-related-payments/
What was Delivered Wasn’t What was Expected – But, It’s Not Clear What Was Expected
Here’s the Senate Judiciary Committee Inquiry into the Trump Tower meeting page with exhibits and testimony: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/releases/materials-from-inquiry-into-circumstances-surrounding-trump-tower-meeting?peek=JnLNybHsog26L1cFm8AR63234MDsncYLzYhn7Ze9%2FdDXzs%2B6
What appears to be the actual four-page memo delivered (apparently provided by Fusion GPS) is reproduced by the Senate Committee as part of the Exhibit set for the Lady Lawyer. If this what was delivered, it is worthless trash – a turgid backgrounder on the Maginski Sanctions. Not worth reproducing in part or whole. It’s indexed as the first four pages of the Veselnitskaya Exhibits. (see above) I recall reading last year that after the contents were read, the meeting was quickly wrapped up, and the memo left behind in its envelope.
The Rob Goldstone June 3 email to Don Jr. promised something more interesting, but it makes no direct reference to Hillary’s emails or DNC documents. The way they are referenced in Goldstone’s first email, below, does not make it clear what their exact nature or provenance might actually be.
IMHO, this is not incriminating evidence of an actual crime or conspiracy, but it does show that Rob Goldstone is part of an effort to lay down breadcrumbs leading to Trump Tower for the Lady Lawyer, particularly if Goldstone wrote the Subject Line (content routinely collected along with metadata, but normally not admissible without a warrant; if Ron Jr. wrote it, it’s ironclad proof that he’s retarded. Just by responding to this in an email, it’s proof that he makes Fredo look like a prodigy):
From: Donald Trump Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia· Clinton • private and confidential
Date: June 3, 2016 at 10:53 AM
To: Rob Goldstone
MARKED AS EXHIBIT -I
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I Just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some llme and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
From: Donald Trump Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia· Clinton • private and confidential
Date: June 3, 2016 at 10:53 AM
To: Rob Goldstone
EXHIBIT – I
On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Emin just called-and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump • helped along by
Aras and Emln.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it Is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
IF there were real evidence that #1) Hillary’s emails were illegally intercepted by the Russians (an actual crime) and that the materials promised for delivery to Trump Tower on June 6, 2016 were somehow otherwise the product of a federal crime (a big IF, there) and IF there is real evidence that Trump believed he intended to in some way to further that crime (big IF #2), along with solid evidence that he took such an act (Big IF #3), then a conspiracy case could be made. But, it hasn’t on the basis of the existing record. Cohen’s statement that Trump, Sr. knew about a meeting is inadequate to prove a Conspiracy without all these elements.
What has been proven? Merely, Junior was stupid enough to take a meeting with someone offering “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” That doesn’t even establish collusion, really.
I don’t see any of these three Big Ifs that might prove a Conspiracy Charge on this basis against either Trump, right now. Do we see the outlines of “collusion” here – that’s a matter of interpretation. Is this proof of Don, Jr’s and Mike Cohen’s stupidity? Absolutely.
The Steele Dossier Violated Campaign Laws
It has also been conjectured that the Trump Tower meeting might have violated federal campaign laws. However, that charge is even less viable than the Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S. allegation, above. Here’s why.
If Mueller raises the Trump Tower meeting as evidence that Trump campaign conspired with foreigners to violate Campaign Laws, he will have to also accuse Hillary Clinton and the DNC of the same federal offense. Indeed, the campaign finance violation case that can be made against the DNC for its actual funding of former MI-6 operative Chris Steele — a UK national who authored the notorious “Pee Pee Dossier” — is far stronger than what might be pieced together conjecturally against Donald Trump, Jr. for his meeting with the Russian Lady lawyer on June 9, 2016.
As I wrote here recently, there is much stronger evidence that the Clinton Campaign actively worked with Ukraine (and other foreign governments) before the election and actually received some “thing of value” for its money, namely foreign intelligence on Trump. In addition, the DNC actually used that intelligence against the opposition, which makes this an actual completed conspiracy. Indeed, the DNC’s funding of the Steele Dossier closely fits the description of a conspiracy to violate the same federal campaign law. (52 USC § 30121)
Some quarters claim that Trump could be indicted for conspiring with foreigners to violate the law forbidding foreigners from contributing “anything of value” to a U.S. campaign. Writing in The Atlantic, which used to be a good publication, Natasha Bertrandt laid that case out, but, of course, neglected to mention the Steele Dossier: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/07/trump-michael-cohen-trump-tower-meeting/566303/
If Trump approved a meeting with foreign nationals in the hopes of obtaining something of value—i.e., opposition research at the height of the presidential election—the intent alone could provide prosecutors with an important piece in understanding the campaign’s willingness to conspire with Russia, legal experts told me.
“It’s certainly one of the more relevant data points that we’ve had,” said the former federal prosecutor Jeff Cramer. If Trump approved the meeting, it was “clearly a violation of criminal law”—specifically, the campaign-finance laws that prohibit campaigns from soliciting things of value from foreign nationals. “And it gives color to all the cover-ups,” Cramer said. Trump and his surrogates have denied that the president knew about the meeting approximately 20 times over the last year. Trump also personally dictated a misleading statement about the meeting on his son’s behalf, which left out the fact that the Russians had offered the campaign dirt on Clinton.
Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and a former special counsel to then–Assistant Attorney General Robert Mueller, said that if prosecutors “could establish that Trump approved the meeting with foreign nationals to receive derogatory information about his opponent—a thing of value—it would fall squarely within the black letter of campaign-finance laws. It would be difficult to dispute that the campaign received a thing of value when the candidate knew of the purpose and approved of the meeting.”
Of course, they didn’t mention the Steele Dossier.Pastiche, twenty, Wood and 20 otherssnot, ozoneman, avaistheone1, Pam, djean111, Marym625, VagrantPeters, winter is coming, Koko, MistaP, Land of Enchantment, democraticdork, 3FingerBrown, bemildred, mrdmk, Xyzse, incognito, Blackspade, Babel 17, nevereVereven like this
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