Is Donald Trump Jr. guilty of conspiracy? Did he cross the line? He’s been accused of committing treason, but that’s nonsense. All this stems from a meeting he had with a Russian attorney set up by the publicist of a Russian pop star, who wanted this rendezvous to occur and it did on June 9, 2016. The meeting occurred in Trump Tower; you can already hear liberals salivating. They have their prize: collusion. Well, yes and no. From the emails released by Donald Trump Jr., it shows at the very minimum that collusion with the Russians was considered. It does not show that this is actual collusion. Also, it warrants more inquiries by Congress, along with the obvious notions about the Russia probe, Trump Jr. was not truthful about the timelines regarding his interactions with the Russians. The meeting was arranged under the pretense that some unsavory information on Hillary Clinton would be divulged. It wasn’t. The sticky wicket here is that the email chain shows the publicist, Rob Goldstone, saying that the material was highly sensitive, collected by the Russians in their effort to help Donald Trump’s campaign.
As Reuters reported, “Collusion in and of itself is not a crime. But if the younger Trump conspired or aided and abetted a criminal action, such as hacking into American computer networks, that could be grounds for criminal charges.” The Washington Post had more on that:
“It's as close as you can get to a smoking gun” of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, said Jeffrey Jacobovitz, a white-collar lawyer who represented officials in the Clinton White House and now is with Arnall Golden Gregory. And it could mean Trump Jr. crossed the legal line on collusion with Russia.
First, a reframing of the way we think of collusion. Collusion actually is a political term; there's no line in the criminal code that says you go to jail for colluding with a foreign adversary.
But you can go to jail for conspiring with a foreign adversary to influence or undermine an election, and Jacobovitz thinks what Trump Jr. did, as documented by emails he himself shared on Twitter, could rise to that level.
“Absolutely,” Jacobovitz replied when asked if these emails firm up evidence that Trump Jr. had intent to commit a crime by conspiring with the Russians. “You may have crossed the line on conspiracy to commit election fraud or conspiracy to obtain information from a foreign adversary,” he said. “You cannot benefit from a foreign adversary in this kind of scenario.”
Yet, Robert Barnes, a constitutional and civil rights lawyer from California, wrote in Law Newz that this isn’t the case. In fact, U.S. Code permits foreign nationals to divulge what we would call information voluntarily so long as they’re not paid. He said that Donald Trump Jr. is innocent of any charges and has committed no crimes, as his meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya was perfectly legal:
The meeting proved useless. Donald Trump Jr. released the emails leading to the meeting. It is clear from the documents and statements of all involved that Donald Trump Jr. did nothing wrong. He broke no law. This isn’t like Hillary Clinton’s husband soliciting donations disguised as speech payments, travel costs, and charity work, while Hillary was Secretary of State. Based solely on the fact the source of the information was a Yeltsin-era prosecutor from Russia, a few anti-Trump lawyers falsely accuse Trump Jr. of a crime.
The Code of Federal Regulations makes the law immunizing Trump Jr.’s actions precisely clear: any foreign national individual may volunteer personal services to a federal candidate or federal political committee without making a contribution. The law provides this volunteer “exemption” as long as the individual performing the service is not compensated by anyone on the campaign.
Hence, legally, Donald Trump Jr. taking a meeting at the request of a family friend, to hear someone wanting to volunteer information about your Dad’s adversary, can legally be no crime. He did what a loyal son, honorable friend, and smart advocate would do — hear them out. Anyone who thinks that’s a crime is the one who needs to have their values checked.
Still, more questions have been asked following the emails’ disclosure. Brace yourselves; Russian Collusion Theater is back. Also, there is no evidence that this meeting was related to the infiltration of servers at the Democratic National Committee.