Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, went on MSNBC Wednesday to suggest that Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who reportedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton was just the “tip of the iceberg.” A publicist of a Russian pop star, at his request, set up the meeting. It was a bust. No information on Clinton. No discussion about the election. This was a horrible judgment call on Trump, Jr’s part. The White House’s credibility on the talking point that there’s zero evidence of collusion is damaged. It was suggested in the email chain. It is solid, slam-dunk proof of collusion? No. But it shows very poor judgment on Trump’s side, and that this could have been a bait-and-switch to discuss something else, like the Magnitsky Act. It was named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died after reportedly being subjected to harsh abuse while in custody. The bill targeted Russian government officials who may have been involved, barring them from entering the U.S. or using our financial system. The law sparked Russia to ban American adoption. The optics are terrible with this meeting, as Rob Goldstone, the publicist, clearly states that the information he supposedly had was highly sensitive and part of Russia’s effort to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. Still, this phantom phone call prior to the meeting is unsubstantiated gossip (via The Hill):
House intel member Jackie Speier believes Don Jr. meeting is "the tip of the iceberg", says may have had more undisclosed interactions. pic.twitter.com/BtagNw4f9A— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 20, 2017
I believe there was probably a phone conversation that Donald Trump Jr. had with someone before the actual meeting took place," Speier, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC.
"And then there was clearly a message being sent by the Russians that 'we want to help your father out, we want to help Trump get elected to the presidency.' "
Speier called the first meeting just the "tip of the iceberg," adding that it's crucial to find out about any other interactions.
Trump Jr. timeline:— Mark Berman (@markberman) July 11, 2017
March: Had no mtgs
Sat: A mtg on adoption
Sun: Seeking dirt on Hillary
Tues: Was told Russian govt wanted to help Trump pic.twitter.com/IHwR15Chec
Again, we don’t know if this meeting is the tip of the iceberg. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) tried to make that assumption come off as a full-blown fact on July 10 until CNN’s Wolf Blitzer called him out:
COONS: Well, Wolf, the fact that this meeting took place in Trump Tower including Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, his son-in-law, now a senior White House official, and his son, and that they were seeking information, allegedly compromising information on Hillary Clinton from a Russian source, suggests that folks with those senior positions in the Trump campaign were routinely seeking such information. And it is just one indication, as Sen. [Mark] Warner (D-VA) said—the first public indication that meetings of this sort may have happened, not just in Trump Tower, but in other times and other places.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: But you don’t know that...
COONS: I don’t know that.
BLITZER: You’re just speculating, right?
COONS: I’m just speculating at this point. That’s right.
Also, this meeting, while ill advised, doesn’t appear to be illegal. It wasn't treason either.