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Hullabaloo


Friday, April 27, 2018

 
Did Donnie Jr call Dad?

by digby



Here's an interesting scooplet from Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent at The Plum Line:
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee today released a report on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Although it’s meant to exonerate President Trump and everyone around him, what it actually does is bring the utter degradation and disgrace of that committee to its fullest expression.

By contrast, there may be real news in the Democrats’ response to the report. In particular, the Democrats detail new information that appears to shed light on what Republicans would not do in their investigation.

The Dem response makes this important charge: That Republicans refused to follow up on a lead that could have demonstrated whether, despite his denials, Trump had advance knowledge of the infamous Trump Tower meeting between a group of Russians and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort.

In an interview with us today, Rep. Adam Schiff expanded on this claim.

The GOP report does address that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, allowing that it showed “poor judgment” on the part of the Trump campaign. As we learned from Don Jr’s emails, those top Trump campaign officials went to that meeting in the full expectation of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton, supplied by the Russian government. But the GOP report brushes this off, concluding there was “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”

But the Democratic response fills in some extremely important context — and it may involve the president himself, though we cannot know one way or the other right now.

According to the Democratic response, right after Donald Jr. set up the specifics of this meeting, he had two calls with a number in Russia belonging to Emin Agalarov.

Between those two calls, the Democratic response recounts, Donald Jr. made a third call to a blocked number. Who might Donald Jr. have been calling?

According to the Democratic response, Democrats wanted to find out — but Republicans blocked that from happening.

“We sought to determine whether that number belonged to the president, because we also ascertained that then-candidate Trump used a blocked number,” Rep. Schiff said in an interview. “That would tell us whether Don Jr. sought his father’s permission to take the meeting, and [whether] that was the purpose of that call.”

“The simple thing to do to find out whether Don Jr. called his father would be to subpoena the phone records to determine whether that phone number belonged to his father,” Schiff continued. “We asked Republicans to subpoena the records and they refused. They didn’t want to know whether he had informed his father and sought his permission to take that meeting with the Russians.”

It's not proof, by a long shot. But when you combine it with this, it sure seems likely that Junior told Dad at some point:



By the way, there's also this if you haven't heard:

Newly surfaced emails indicate that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign associates in 2016, once worked with Russia's chief legal office in an effort to thwart the Justice Department, The New York Times reported on Friday.

The newspaper notes that the disclosure suggests that the lawyer had closer ties to the Kremlin than she had previously suggested.

The Times reported that, according to an NBC News interview with Richard Engel to be broadcast Friday night, Veselnitskaya disclosed that she was a "source of information" for Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that there are ties between Veselnitskaya and the Russian government, and last year, Veselnitskaya denied having worked for the Russian government in an interview with NBC News.

But the newspaper now reports that in the interview with NBC News set to air on Friday, she says, "I am a lawyer, and I am an informant," and that since 2013, she has been "actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general."

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