President Trump and his lawyers have discussed whether he could pardon his relatives and aides to undercut, or even end, the special counsel’s investigation into charges that his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported on Thursday night.
There’s no question that with a stroke of his pen, Mr. Trump can shield his son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and other close associates from potential prosecution. Despite the uproar that would set off, we know by now that Mr. Trump loves the grand gesture, whatever the consequences. Besides, his family is at stake.
While his authority to pardon is crystal clear, a crucial, threatening, legal ambiguity should make him think twice about using this authority.
The Constitution gives the president “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” The framers had sound reasons for bestowing that authority. As Alexander Hamilton explained, criminal law in the late 18th century was so severe that without the pardon power to soften it, “justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”
Consistent with the framers’ design, the Supreme Court has interpreted the president’s pardon power broadly. The president can pardon anyone for any crime at any time — even before a suspect has been charged. Congress cannot withdraw presidential pardons, and prosecutors and courts cannot ignore them.
But could a pardon be a criminal abuse of power? Some would argue that would contradict the founders’ vision of unlimited pardon authority. If a president sold pardons for cash, though, that would violate the federal bribery statute. And if a president can be prosecuted for exchanging pardons for bribes, then it follows that the broad and unreviewable nature of the pardon power does not shield the president from criminal liability for abusing it.
The Justice Department and the F.B.I. proceeded on this premise in 2001 when they opened an investigation into possible bribery charges arising out of President Bill Clinton’s pardon of the fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose former wife had donated $450,000 to Clinton’s presidential library. The investigation lasted until 2005, though no charges resulted.
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Of course, bribery would not be the relevant crime. No one thinks that Donald Jr. or Jared Kushner — or anyone else involved in the Russia scandal — would pay the president for a pardon.
Yet federal obstruction statutessay that a person commits a crime when he “corruptly” impedes a court or agency proceeding. If it could be shown that President Trump pardoned his family members and close aides to cover up possible crimes, then that could be seen as acting “corruptly” and he could be charged with obstruction of justice. If, as some commentators believe, a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mr. Trump could still face prosecution after he leaves the White House.
There is strong support for the claim that the obstruction statutes apply to the president.
In 1974, when the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard Nixon, members on both sides of the debate acknowledged that presidential obstruction of justice was not only impeachable but also criminal. A quarter century later, the Senate split 50-50 on whether to remove President Clinton from office on obstruction charges, but senators from both parties agreed that the obstruction laws applied to the president.
There is a broad consensus that a president exercises the pardon power properly — not “corruptly” — when he grants clemency based on considerations of mercy or the public welfare. President Gerald Ford invoked both of those values when he pardoned Nixon: He said that a prosecution of the former president would be too divisive and that Nixon had suffered enough. President George H.W. Bush gestured to both valueswhen he pardoned former Reagan administration officials for their involvement in the Iran-contra scandal.
In Trump’s case, the question would be whether he was acting out of the goodness of his heart, or covering up for his family, his associates and himself.
We expect — and hope — that prosecutors and courts would give wide latitude to a president in evaluating his pardon decisions. Only in the most egregious cases should a president face criminal liability for actions taken while in office.
While the law on this subject is unsettled, that in itself should be unsettling to the president as he considers whether to grant clemency. Not only might the pardons constitute obstruction, but the pardoned individuals might be compelled to testify against Mr. Trump without any recourse to the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, since they would no longer have any concern about incriminating themselves.
He could ensure that his family members and aides get off scot-free for any crimes they may have committed during the 2016 campaign. But by extricating those individuals from a legal predicament, he might make his own predicament worse.
CONGRESS AND SENATE PASS BILL PUTTING NEW SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
(CNN) The House and Senate reached a deal Saturday to slap Russia with fresh sanctions and give Congress new veto power to block any easing of those sanctions — an agreement that could send a new bill to President Donald Trump’s desk before the end of the month.
House and Senate negotiators announced an agreement was reached Saturday morning for a bill that would include new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
Despite the White House lobbying for changes to the measure, the legislation will give Congress a new ability to block the administration from easing sanctions on Moscow. Democrats and some Republicans have expressed concerns that Trump is considering giving Russia back two compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration in December.
“Given the many transgressions of Russia, and President Trump’s seeming inability to deal with them, a strong sanctions bill such as the one Democrats and Republicans have just agreed to is essential,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “I expect the House and Senate will act on this legislation promptly, on a broad bipartisan basis and send the bill to the President’s desk.”
The House will vote on the bill on Tuesday, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s schedule, and the Senate is likely to take it up after that, although Senate leaders haven’t said when they will bring it to the floor. Congressional aides say they expect Trump will sign the bill because it will likely pass both chambers with strong, veto-proof majorities.
In a text message to CNN, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he sees the agreement “quite negatively.”
The agreement on the sanctions was the result of an often contentious, month-long back-and-forth between the House and Senate after the Senate passed a bill for new sanctions against Russia and Iran 98 to 2 in June.
The bill faced a so-called blue slip constitutional problem that revenue generating legislation must originate in the House. That was fixed after a negotiation between the two chambers, but then House Democrats objected to another tweak that removed their ability to force a vote to stop the easing of sanctions.
McCarthy then said he wanted to add North Korean sanctions legislation that the House passed in May to the measure, prompting Democrats to accuse Republicans of stalling the bill on behalf of the White House, which was lobbying against the congressional review provision.
Numerous US companies also wanted changes over concerns the bill could inadvertently impact their businesses.
“My preference over the last month had been for the House to take up and adopt the legislation that passed the Senate 98-2; however I welcome the House bill, which was the product of intense negotiations,” said Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee. “I believe the proposed changes to the bill have helped to clarify the intent of members of Congress as well as express solidarity with our closest allies in countering Russian aggression and holding the Kremlin accountable for their destabilizing activities.”
CNN reported Friday that the deal addressed some of the concerns of US companies while keeping in the congressional review portion, besides making technical changes. To address House Democrats’ complaints, the bill gives any House member the ability to force a vote to disapprove of sanctions if the Senate passes it first.
“The legislation ensures that both the majority and minority are able to exercise our oversight role over the administration’s implementation of sanctions,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said in a statement Saturday. “I look forward to seeing this legislation on the Floor next week, where I’m confident it will receive strong, bipartisan support.”
The bill was also changed to ensure that it didn’t affect a major pipeline used to transport oil from Kazakhstan through Russia to Ukraine as well as a natural gas pipeline that goes between Russia and Germany.
The revised bill also clarifies that American companies cannot do business with already-sanctioned defense interests in Russia, as there were concerns US companies that want to finalize transportation deals could be barred from doing so under the initial bill’s restrictions.
The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trumpcampaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.
FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.
The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, said on Thursday that he was unaware of the inquiry into Trump’s businesses by the two-months-old investigation and considered it beyond the scope of what Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be examining.
“Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code,” he wrote in an email.
Major U.S. stock indices, which had been trading higher in the morning, fell as traders worried that the probe could derail Trump’s growth agenda. The dollar fell against the euro and U.S. government bonds rose.
The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have involved Russians for years, however, making the boundaries fuzzy.
The Justice Department’s May 17 order to Mueller instructs him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” suggesting a relatively broad mandate.
Agents are interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary. In addition, they are examining the efforts of Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior aide, to secure financing for some of his family’s real-estate properties. The information about the investigation was provided by someone familiar with the developing inquiry but not authorized to speak publicly.
The roots of Mueller’s follow-the-money investigation lie partly in a wide-ranging money-laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last year, according to the person.
FBI agents already had been gathering information about Manafort, according to two people with knowledge of that probe. Prosecutors hadn’t yet begun presenting evidence to a grand jury. Trump fired Bharara in March.
The Manafort inquiry initially focused on actions involving a real-estate company he launched with money from Ukraine in 2008. By the time Bharara was fired, his office’s investigation of possible money laundering extended well beyond that, according to the person briefed on the Mueller probe.
Watch Next: Why Robert Mueller Is the Perfect Man for the Job
The Bharara investigation was consolidated into Mueller’s inquiry, showing that the special counsel is taking an overarching approach. The various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller’s inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Joshua Stueve, Mueller’s spokesman, declined to comment, as did a Manafort spokesman and Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner.
Spokesmen for the White House, Trump Organization and Ross didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mueller’s team is looking at the Trump SoHo hotel condominium development, which was a licensing deal with Bayrock Capital LLC. In 2010, the former finance director of Bayrock filed a lawsuit claiming the firm structured transactions in fraudulent ways to evade taxes. Bayrock was a key source of capital for Trump projects, including Trump SoHo.
The 2013 Miss Universe pageant is of interest because a prominent Moscow developer, Aras Agalarov, paid $20 million to bring the beauty spectacle there. About a third of that sum went to Trump in the form of a licensing fee, according to Forbes magazine. At the event, Trump met Herman Gref, chief executive of Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank PJSC. Agalarov’s son, Emin, helped broker a meeting last year between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton and her campaign.
Another significant financial transaction involved a Palm Beach, Florida, estate Trump purchased in 2004 for $41 million, after its previous owner lost it in bankruptcy. In March of 2008, after the real-estate bubble had begun losing air, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the property for $95 million.
As part of their investigation, Mueller’s team has issued subpoenas to banks and filed requests for bank records to foreign lenders under mutual legal-assistance treaties, according to two of the people familiar with the matter.
President Trump said on Wednesday that he would not have picked Jeff Sessions as his attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the investigations into Russian election meddling.
That Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the probe, Trump told The New York Times in an interview, is “very unfair to the president.”
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said.
“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said ‘thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you,” he continued. “It’s extremely unfair – and that’s a mild word – to the president.”
Sessions recused himself from the law enforcement investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow in March, after it was revealed that he failed to disclose to the Senate two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while he was a surrogate for Trump’s campaign.
The announcement that Sessions would step back from the investigation surprised Trump, who told the Times on Wednesday that the attorney general gave him “zero” warning before recusing himself.
Trump’s young administration has been dogged by ongoing investigations into whether members of his campaign coordinated with Russian officials to help swing the election in his favor.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or improper activity, and has called the probe a “witch hunt.
I know that here in the U.S. there has been a joke about politicians and truthfulness for many decades at the very least. The joke is “how do you know when a politician is lying?” The answer being “if their lips are moving.” In the place of the word politician you can then insert a particular politicians name, say like, Bush or Clinton. I wonder sometimes if this is a prerequisite for a person to be a politician not only here in the U.S. but within all countries. Is it any wonder that the majority of Federal politicians are lawyers seeing that to become a lawyer you have to take what I call the “Hypocrites Oath?” I know that our President is not a lawyer nor is he really a politician, but he has proven himself, just as several members of his family have, that he and they seem to lie about darn near everything, habitually.
Within a Country, the people of that Nation not being able to trust anything that their Leader says is plenty bad enough, but what about when no Leader of any Nation can believe anything your President says, what then? President Trump has without a doubt proven that he knows nothing at all about pretty much anything concerning world affairs and that is very dangerous for your Leader to be so ignorant of pretty much any reality on the ground. Yet what is even more dangerous is when the whole world and all of the Nations Leaders realize that your President is clueless and that he or she is constantly an habitual liar on pretty much everything! The Lord knows that I really do not like Hillary Clinton as a person and one of the main reasons is her being a constant liar, she just like Mr. Trump won’t be able to lay straight in their coffins because they won’t be able to get the crookedness out of their bones. Yet, even though I hate to admit it that the U.S. and the world may have been better off if Hilary was the President instead of Mr. Trump. To me that is a sickening thought so I will close this commentary with my reason for saying that. The reason is that Hillary is a very intelligent person, crooked to her core but she is very smart, she knows the realities going on all around the globe, Mr. Trump is totally clueless. A reality is that being an habitual liar makes a person almost impossible to trust, but when that person is also totally clueless it makes them 100% impossible to trust anything they ever say or do. This past couple of weeks has proven without any doubt what so ever that the apples didn’t fall far from the Trump Tree!
A pro-democracy activist mourns the death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo outside China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong on July 13. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)
Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo died Thursday at age 61. Liu was one of his country’s best-known dissidents and became the only Chinese national to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. But his activism against one-party rule came at a huge personal cost: When he won the Nobel, he was in the middle of a lengthy prison sentence for his promotion of democracy.
Liu was granted medical parole in late June as the Chinese government revealed that he had late-stage liver cancer, but he died under the close guard of authorities. He is the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in state custody since 1938, when German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky died after years in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.
The circumstances of Liu’s death drew commiseration from around the world. However, the response from the leader of the United States was comparatively muted. The White House released a short statement Thursday that said President Trump was “deeply saddened” by the news of Liu’s death, noting that he was a “poet, scholar and courageous advocate” who had “dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.”
Many activists said that the White House statement was undercut by comments Trump himself made earlier in the day. The president had been holding a news conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron when a reporter asked him what he thought personally of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
“Well, he’s a friend of mine,” Trump responded. “I have great respect for him. We’ve gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He’s a very talented man. I think he’s a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what’s right for China.”
Xi has been leader of China since 2013 and oversaw the country during four years of Liu’s detention. Activists say that under Xi, the Chinese state has grown more repressive and activists more threatened.
“The future for human rights in China gets ever bleaker under the leadership of President Xi Jinping,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said this year. “The authorities have targeted rights-promoting groups and boldly strengthened efforts to control them.”
Though Trump has frequently criticized China for its trade policies and economic relationship with North Korea, he has shied away from commenting on human rights abuses in the country. The U.S. president has met with Xi a number of times and spoken warmly of his personal relationship with him on a number of occasions.
Trump’s praise for Xi is disappointing to many Chinese activists.
“Trump has shown so little interest in human rights since he came to power, and sometimes he even shows contempt for human rights issues,” Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident and Liu family friend, told the Guardian newspaper.
Trump isn’t the first U.S. president to tread lightly on the subject of human rights. Though President Barack Obama raised the issue of Liu’s detention shortly after the activist won the Nobel Peace Prize, he too shied away from commenting on it at other times, and threatened to veto a Senate bill that would have renamed the street in front of the Chinese Embassy “Liu Xiaobo Plaza.”
Though the White House issued only a short statement on Liu’s death, other branches of the U.S. government issued more detailed responses to the news.
In a statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called it a “tragic passing” and called on the Chinese government to release Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest. “In his fight for freedom, equality and constitutional rule in China, Liu Xiaobo embodied the human spirit that the Nobel Prize rewards. In his death, he has only reaffirmed the Nobel Committee’s selection,” the statement read.
What’s most important from where the world meets Washington
Incoming Ambassador to China Terry Branstad also offered a longer statement that echoed Tillerson’s call to release Liu Xia.
“China has lost a deeply principled role model who deserved our respect and adulation, not the prison sentences to which he was subjected,” Branstad wrote.
But the strongest statements came from outside the administration. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the Chinese government’s delay in getting treatment to the imprisoned activist “the last barbaric violation of Dr. Liu’s human rights.” Former president George W. Bush also issued a statement, saying Liu was a political prisoner of conscience who had “dared to dream of a China that respected human rights.”
This question unfortunately could be directed at the Clinton family or even the Bush family but today I am asking this question about the President and his family. I am not a fan of any of these families as they have all proven to be power-hungry, money hungry habitual liars. I believe that most Americans knew that Hillary Clinton has had real trouble in her life with finding out a way to not lie when she opens her mouth and I believe that this is one of the many reasons that people like myself could not vote for her last November. By what I hear from other folks they said that they were willing to give Donald Trump a chance to see if he would tell the truth on domestic and foreign agendas. I know that a lot of us are now very unhappy with his ability to ever tell the truth. Part of the Presidents issues are his King Kong size ego, and his peanut size brain. During the campaign he often spoke of how intelligent he was, how he knew more that most everyone on every thing, like how he knew more than the Generals concerning the Middle-East. Now that he has been in Office for about six months he has proven to the whole world that he is pretty much nothing but an idiot, and an ass. The whole world has learned that there is no way they can trust anything that he says. Another issue with our President is his constant lying and the fact that he tells so many lies each day that he can’t remember one line of BS he has told from one morning till the afternoon. Yet this article today isn’t about his massive ignorance of almost every issue on the planet, it is about if he and his family have committed treason concerning Russia and if he is guilty of massive tax evasion and tax fraud.
These are not accusations, they are questions, very important questions that ‘We The People’ absolutely need to know the whole truth about very, very soon. To me it appears there is no doubt about President Trump and several in his inner circle have lied many times about their connections with the Russian government which in Russia means President Putin. They have tried to hide many meetings with Russian officials, lying to the Congress and the American people about those meeting and connections. There are reasons that these people have collective memory loss when it concerns Russia. Even our Attorney General who is supposed to be Americas top ‘law enforcement’ officer lied to Congress and the people more than once on this issue. Folks, do you really think that all of these folks have Dementia? I don’t, there are reasons that these people are lying to us. Just like Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is such a hardliner about putting as many poor people as possible in prisons for as long as possible, is there another reason he is like this? Turns out that Mr. Sessions has a lot of stock in the two largest ‘Prison for Profit” companies in the Country. When Mr. Sessions was confirmed to be the new AG his own personal fortune in these two stocks skyrocketed. And to think, he is the ‘top Cop’ in our Country. As you most likely noticed I said putting poor people in jail, if he was really doing his job he would have to arrest the President and several of his personal staff then resign at once and put himself in one of his own prisons. I know that I am like most folks in that I am sick and tired of these crooked habitual lying “Leaders.”
In the years before Mr. Trump officially announced that he was going to run for President again and even early in the campaign he used to openly brag about all of his investments in Russia and business deals he had with well-connected Russians here in the States. Remember, he used to even brag on national television how he had met President Putin before but once elected denied that he ever said that. Maybe if he could learn to be truthful all of the time then maybe his peanut brain could at least remember events correctly then, but I personally doubt it. During these past couple of days there is news coming out from the New York Times about a meeting last June at the New York Trump Tower where Donald Trump Jr., Son-in-law Jarred Kushner, and then Campaign Manager Paul Manafort had an arranged meeting with a Russian lawyer who is well-connected to the Russian government. This meeting seemed to be ‘forgotten’ by all of the Trump ‘team’ that attended, what a coincidence. Paul Manafort is extremely well-connected to the deposed President of UKraine whom was nothing but a Putin proxy who now lives in Moscow. Since Mr. Manafort was forced to step down from being Trumps Campaign Manager he has since registered as a ‘Foreign Agent going all the way back to 2012’ because of his Russian ties just like their former Nation Security Director Michael Flynn had to step down because of lies about his financial ties with the Russian government and with the Dictator Erdogan of Turkey, Flynn has also now registered as a foreign agent.
Last fall Jared Kushner met with the Chief Executive of the Russian State owned (VNB) in Moscow. This Bank has been sanctioned by the U.S. and NATO and once this is done we are not supposed to inner act with Officials of sanctioned banks. O, also, Mr. Kushner forgot to mention this meeting too. To me I have an issue concerning Donald Trumps tax returns. With all of these secret meetings with Russian Officials that all these folks lied about under oath it is getting more difficult to believe any thing except this President and his family are simply doing what they have always done they are putting “the Trump Bank Accounts first”, not the American people. Mr. Trump used to brag about his Florida Golf Club being worth one hundred million dollars to his guests yet on his taxes he valued it as being worth one million dollars. Just to be a member there the cost was one hundred thousand dollars per year, when he became President he upped the fee to two hundred thousand per year. If an average citizen of this Country pulled something like that on our taxes we would quickly be convicted of tax evasion and thrown into a Federal Prison for the rest of our lives. I do believe that the Congress and the Senate should do what ever they have to do to make all of the Trump advisers and the President himself required to immediately be forced to release their tax returns for the past ten years. ‘We The People’ have the absolute right to know who our Leaders serve and to know if they are the criminals they appear to be. It does appear that Mr. Trumps slogan should not have been “putting America first” as it should have been “putting the Trump family first, and only.”
The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
If the future president’s elder son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication.
He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”
Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.
On June 9, the Russian lawyer was sitting in the younger Mr. Trump’s office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower, just one level below the office of the future president.
Over the last several days, The New York Times has disclosed the existence of the meeting, whom it involved and what it was about. The story has unfolded as The Times has been able to confirm details of the meetings.
But the email exchanges, which were reviewed by The Times, offer a detailed unspooling of how the meeting with the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, came about — and just how eager Donald J. Trump was to accept what he was explicitly told was the Russian government’s help.
The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.
The precise nature of the promised damaging information about Mrs. Clinton is unclear, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was related to Russian-government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. But in recent days, accounts by some of the central organizers of the meeting, including Donald Trump Jr., have evolved or have been contradicted by the written email records.
After being told that The Times was about to publish the content of the emails, instead of responding to a request for comment, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out images of them himself on Tuesday.
“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails” about the June 9 meeting, he wrote. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet.”
He added that nothing came of it.
On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that it was hardly unusual to take information on an opponent. And on Tuesday morning, he tweeted, “Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”
The back story to the June 9 meeting involves an eclectic cast of characters the Trump family knew from its business dealings in Moscow.
The initial email outreach came from Rob Goldstone, a British-born former tabloid reporter and entertainment publicist who first met the future president when the Trump Organization was attempting to do business in Russia.
In the June 3 email, Mr. Goldstone told Donald J. Trump Jr. that he was writing on behalf of a mutual friend, one of Russia’s biggest pop music stars, Emin Agalarov. Emin, who professionally uses his first name only, is the son of Aras Agalarov, a real estate tycoon sometimes called the “Donald Trump of Russia.”
The elder Agalarov boasts close ties to Mr. Putin: his company has won several large state building contracts, and Mr. Putin awarded him the “Order of Honor of the Russian Federation.”
Mr. Agalarov joined with the elder Mr. Trump to bring the Miss Universe contest to Moscow in 2013, and the Trump and Agalarov families grew relatively close.
When Emin released a music video with a theme borrowed from the television show, The Apprentice, Mr. Trump, then the show’s star, made a cameo appearance, delivering his trademark line: “You’re fired!” The elder Mr. Agalarov had also partnered with the Trumps to build a Trump hotel in Moscow, but the deal never came to fruition.
“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Mr. Goldstone wrote in the email. “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.”
He added, “What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?”
There is no such title as Crown Prosecutor in Russia – the Crown Prosecution Service is a British term – but the equivalent in Russia is the Prosecutor General of Russia.
That office is held by Yury Yakovlevich Chaika, a Putin appointee who is known to be close to Ms. Veselnitskaya.
After sending back his “love it” reply, Donald Trump Jr. arranged to speak with Emin, sending along his private cell phone number on June 6.
“Ok he’s on stage in Moscow but should be off within 20 Minutes so I’m sure can call,” Mr. Goldstone wrote at 3:43 p.m.
Within the hour, Donald Trump Jr. had responded
“Rob thanks for the help. D”
The following day, Mr. Goldstone followed up:
“Don Hope all is well Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday. I believe you are aware of this meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?”
Mr. Goldstone’s emails contradict statements he made in his interview with The Times on Monday, when he said that he did not know whether the elder Mr. Agalarov had any role in arranging the meeting, and that he had no knowledge of any official Russian government role in the offer to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Mrs. Clinton. Instead, he said that Ms. Veselnitskaya had contacted Emin directly, and that Emin had asked him to reach out to the Trumps as a favor to her.
“I actually asked him at one point how he knew her, and he said, ‘I can’t remember but, you know, I know thousands of people,’” he said in the interview.
Subsequent efforts to reach Mr. Goldstone, who acknowledged in the interview that he had spoken with someone at the Trump Organization over the weekend in anticipation of media attention, have been unsuccessful.
Mr. Goldstone, in a June 7 follow-up email, wrote, “I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.”
By that time, as the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump was already under the protection of the Secret Service and access to Trump Tower in New York was strictly controlled. Ms Veselnitskaya told The Times that the person who accompanied her was an interpreter whom she declined to name.
After being informed that the Russian attorney couldn’t make the 3 p.m. time that had been proposed, and agreeing to move it forward by an hour, Donald Trump Jr. “Donald Jr. forwarded. . .”? forwarded the entire email chain to Mr. Kushner’s company work email, and to Mr. Manafort at his Trump campaign email.
“Meeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices,” he wrote on June 8. “Best, Don.”
Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the fact of the meeting, though not the content, in a revised form on which all those seeking top secret security clearances are required to list contacts with foreign government officials and their representatives. The Times reported in April that he had failed to list a number of Russian contacts, which his lawyer called an error.
Mr. Manafort also disclosed that a meeting had occurred, and that Donald Trump Jr. had organized it, in response to one of the Russia-related congressional investigations.
Representatives for both men did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ms. Veselnitskaya arrived the following day and was ushered into Donald Trump Jr.’s office for a meeting with what amounted to the Trump campaign’s brain trust.
Besides having politically connected clients, one of whom was under investigation by federal prosecutors at the time of the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya is well known for her lobbying efforts against the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that punishes designated Russian human rights abusers by allowing the United States to seize their assets and keep them from entering the country. The law so angered Mr. Putin that he retaliated by banning American families from adopting Russian children. Her activities and associations have brought her to the attention of the F.B.I., according to a former senior law enforcement official.
When first contacted by The Times on Saturday, Donald Trump Jr. portrayed the meeting this way:
“It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”
The following day, after the Times informed him that it was preparing an article that would say that the meeting also involved a discussion about potentially compromising material on Mrs. Clinton, he issued another statement:
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. ” he said. “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”
Mr. Goldstone recalled the meeting in much the same way.
Ms. Veselnitskaya offered “just a vague, generic statement about the campaign’s funding and how people, including Russian people, living all over the world donate when they shouldn’t donate” before turning to her anti-Magnitsky Act arguments, he said. “It was the most inane nonsense I’ve ever heard.”
Ms. Veselnitskaya, for her part, said in an statement to The Times sent this past weekend that “nothing at all about the presidential campaign” had been discussed at the Trump Tower meeting, adding that she had “never acted on behalf of the Russian government” and that she had “never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government.” She has not responded to requests for comment since.
A spokesman for Mr. Putin said on Monday that he did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya and that he had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.
Back in Washington, both the White House and a spokesman for President Trump’s lawyer have taken pains to distance the president from the meeting, saying that he did he not attend it and that he learned about it only recently.
Mr. Agalarov did not respond to a request for comment.
Emin, the pop star at the center of it all, will not comment on the matter, either, Mr. Goldstone, his publicist, said on Monday.
“Emin said to me that I could tell journalists that you know he has decided to go with just a straight no comment. His reasoning for that is simply that he believes that by him commenting in any way from Russia it once again will open this debate of Trump Trump Russia. Now here’s another person from Russia. Now he’s another person from Russia. So he wants to just not comment on the story. That’s his reasoning. It’s – the story will play out however it plays out.”
It’s not real, it’s a conspiracy, it just doesn’t exist.
A concept created by China to destroy the US.
It’s a complete delusion and irresponsible too,
To spread propaganda and call it “Fake news”.
With higher altitudes it’ll effect you last,
Higher tides, a lack of drinking water, it’ll be slightly warmer.
Meanwhile we’ve lost Fiji it’s been reclaimed by water.
When you accept and acknowledge that the problem is there,
And it’s a lot more real than your fake head of hair.
Then we can finally get together to right our wrongs,
I would hate to imagine if we waited too long.
So with water levels rising and the earth’s surface heating up,
Two more degrees and basically we’re f—-d.
If that’s all that stands between us and total destruction,
The last thing we needed was your deduction.
By leaving an agreement that was meant to start the healing,
Of a broken planet we are all depleting.
The weather changes,
The melting snow,
The continuously growing ozone hole.
And our incessant desire to destroy our rain forests,
Demolishing trees that we actually need!
When you turn your mind away from business deals,
Profit margins and personal gain,
And recognise that the US is fifteen percent to blame.
Fifteen percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,
Fifteen percent of the effected atmospheric conditions,
Fifteen percent of the reason why the planet wastes away,
Fifteen percent why we have a limited amount of time.
So until we reunite together and decide on a plan to fix a world in strife,
In desperate need of attention to help sustain our lives.
Remember that two degrees is all it will take to destroy everything we know,
Essentially deciding our fate.
Don’t leave it up to a man who clearly doesn’t understand,
I guess it wasn’t in the job description to care about our lands,
Or the air we breathe,
And the water we so desperately need.
But what more can we expect from a campaign,
Derived from hate with the power to segregate.
Whose ideas rested on bricks and mortar.
The ones he promised would protect the US border.
When the threat you so blatantly deny is bigger than any wall you can build to hide.
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