Donald Trump posted what may be his most “problematic” Tweet to date, as the Washington Post called it, at least when it comes to his legal defense in the ongoing Russia collusion investigation. In a post to his Twitter feed early Sunday morning, Trump admitted for the first time that the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting involving his son, Donald Trump Jr., and a group of Russians including a Kremlin-linked lawyer, was intended to receive opposition research on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
When the meeting first became public knowledge last year, Trump personally dictated a statement for public release claiming that the meeting was called to discuss resuming adoptions of orphaned Russian babies by United States citizens. In fact, as Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall has reported, Trump came up with the false “adoptions” story just hours after a lengthy private discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Germany.
Marshall reported that during the private meeting, according to Trump himself, Putin brought up the Russian adoptions.
The revelation that the Trump Tower meeting was called to transmit damaging information on Clinton is not a new one. As the Inquisitr has noted, Trump Jr. himself released the emails that led to the meeting, in which he was promised 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.”
But Sunday’s Twitter post marks the first time that the elder Trump has publicly acknowledged the purpose of the meeting, which was also attended by his then-Campaign Chair Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. In the Twitter message, Trump claims that the meeting was “totally legal” and is “done all the time in politics.”
As Think Progress researchers found, the offer of campaign aid from Moscow was not the first time that the Kremlin offered to help a United States presidential candidate. Similar offers were made to John F. Kennedy in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and “any candidate, of either party” who opposed Ronald Reagan in 1984.
But historical evidence shows that all of those offers were flatly refused. Far from something that is “done all the time,” Trump’s admission would make him the first U.S. presidential candidate in history to admit accepting campaign aid from the Russian government.
The Russian delegation at the Trump Tower meeting was led by Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who as Inquisitr noted, later admitted to being an “informant” for a high-ranking Kremlin official — in other words, according to experts, a spy.
The assertion by Trump that the meeting was “totally legal” also appears to be on shaky ground. As an analysis by the University of Kentucky Election Law Society clearly explains, under U.S. law, “any contribution by a foreign national to the campaign of an American candidate for any election, state or national, is illegal,” and any campaign of a candidate who accepts foreign aid is committing a crime.
Trump’s claim that he did not know about the Trump Tower meeting is also “problematic,” according to The Post. Not only has Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen reportedly said that Trump did, in fact, know about the meeting in advance, as Inquisitr earlier reported, but just two days before the meeting, Trump announced that he planned a major speech serving up damaging information on Clinton. But the speech never happened, and Trump Jr. has said that the Russians failed to produce their promised “dirt” on Clinton.
Following the meeting, Trump Jr. took part in three phone calls, as House Intelligence Committee Vice-Chair Adam Schiff pointed out. Two were with Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer and real estate developer whose publicist sent the original email to Trump Jr. setting up the meeting. The third was with a blocked number.
The owner of the blocked number has not been discovered, but Trump himself was in his office at Trump Tower just one floor above where the meeting took place and is known to have had a blocked phone number at the time.