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Did Donald Trump Jr. Break the Law by Meeting with the Russians?

by Countable | 7.12.17

On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted images of emails he had with a Kremlin associate in hopes of receiving "very high level and sensitive information" that would damage Hillary Clinton and aid his father’s campaign. Trump Jr.’s confirmation of the motivations behind the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower has made onlookers wonder if he has actually admitted to breaking the law and colluding with Russia.

In a criminal sense, collusion applies to antitrust law and price fixing — when rival businesses coordinate their prices in a non-competitive way — so in this context the phrase is being used colloquially to imply improper coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. From a legal standpoint, numerous legal experts told Politico that there is no specific crime covering collusion, with national security attorneys Mark Zaid and Bradley Moss saying:

"There is no federal law that criminalizes collusion, in and of itself, between a political campaign and a foreign government. It’s highly unethical and inappropriate, but we do not believe Congress has ever chosen to specifically identify that legal term of art in a criminal statute in this context.”

However, not all experts agree with that assessment. Election law prohibits foreign governments from making contributions to U.S. political campaigns, and that goes beyond a simple cash donation to include "anything of value" in connection to the campaign.

Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel during the Obama administration argued in a post on Just Security that the hacked Podesta emails "which were then transmitted to WikiLeaks for posting, clearly had value, and its connection to the election is not disputed."

It’s not clear that courts would interpret a campaign accepting potentially helpful information from a foreign government as an in-kind contribution that violates campaign finance law.

However, some legal experts believe such coordination could violate other laws. For example, it’s also illegal to solicit contributions from foreign nationals, and that’s illegal whether or not the contribution (in this case non-existent opposition research) is actually delivered.

While there’s debate surrounding the criminal liability (or lack thereof) in this case, the political liability for the Trump administration is clear — they’re spending another news cycle fighting the narrative of Russian collusion instead of advancing their agenda.

Tell your reps what you think of Donald Trump Jr.’s admission about his meeting with a Russian lawyer using the Take Action button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore) / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(136)
  • Matthew
    07/12/2017
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    Ummmm DUH!!!! I am going to make this very, very, very, very simple for all the Manchurian Predisent supporters: if you plan to rob a bank, and go you into the bank, yelling this is a robbery, waving your guns around at people, BUT the bank does not have any money in it . . . IT IS STILL A CRIME!!!! There is no defense for this administration: LOCK 'EM UP!!! How ironic to use one of the Manchurian's phrases on him.

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  • Christopher
    07/13/2017
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    Conspiracy 101 - a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. What more evidence do you need of intent to collude with a foreign government? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, the parties involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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  • Rita
    07/12/2017
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    He broke the law by not reporting a foreign government's desire to affect our election.

    Like (30)
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  • John
    07/12/2017
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    The entire Trump family has been, is, and will continue to lie to this country while at the same time they use the Presidency for personal gain. When will the Congress take action against this corrupt President to remove this man and family from the White House?

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  • Peggy
    07/12/2017
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    This isn't a "PR problem," or a distraction. It's a crime.

    Like (27)
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  • Evan
    07/12/2017
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    Imagine that you live in a house with your sister. Your sister upsets you, and you wanna get back at her. Suddenly, a neighbor from across the street who you haven't spoken with in years arrives and says "oh yeah man I totally have proof it was your sister who drank from the milk jug and and took your headphones. I'll give you proof if you invite me over more." Now, your responses could be anywhere from "Oh thanks man come on over and you can show me" to "how the fuck do you know? Why are you spying on me?" Whether or not a legal term for a close member of a campaign agreeing to meet a foreign agent so they can get you to win in return for favors exists, but I promise you it's wrong, and there will be a law against it shortly after Trump leaves the White House. Our Founding Fathers definitely didn't intend for foreign actors to meddle in our elections and lawmaking.

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  • Scott
    07/12/2017
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    I'm not certain if Donald Trump Jr. broke the law in his meeting with a Russian Attorney, however I am certain that way he did is by most definitions collusion. I'm also 100% certain that Jarrod Kushner broke the law by failing to document it on his SF86 form. This isn't about party anymore, this is about whether the republicans are willing to sell us out, and whether the rule of law applies to the president. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Stand by your country GOP, people will respect the fact that you did what's right. If you don't, you are complicit in the biggest foreign compromise in the history of this country and you will be held accountable in 2018.

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  • Sheila
    07/12/2017
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    Ignorance of the law is no excuse. And, certainly anyone should know collaborating with a foreign government to directly affect a United States election is wrong. Illegal? I don't know. It should be. But, does anyone believe he did not get any information and that he did not disclose it to his father? As dominating as his father is? Of course, Donald Trump knew about this. C'mon. We're not idiots. Republicans, I'm sorry you can't stand up for our country. You need to put country ahead of party. This man and his family are lunatics with no morals and no self control.

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  • Azrael
    07/13/2017
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    The trump family has bought, bullied, stiffed, intimidated people their entire lives and high priced lawyered their way out But that was in their world with private money This is our world, our country, our elections, our White House, our presidency We the people will not tolerate a hostile country or hostile people thinking they can take our democracy from us He invited a hostile country to steal our free elections Yes this is a crime Prosecute and incarcerate

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  • Claude
    07/13/2017
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    By now the average citizen would be in jail or under indictment. GOP need to stop protecting this Crime Family. I thought American Politics was beyond this. Donald Jr and Jarred Kushner's security Clearance should be Revoked. "Yesterday"!!! Who can defend delaying the revocation of their Security Clearance? Protect Americas Interest. This is not an issue to play politics with. Stop and Think. Then Act.

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  • James
    07/13/2017
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    Time to be an American or be remembered as a traitor. Your choice GOP

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  • Andrea
    07/13/2017
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    Yes I think he did. He should have gone to the FBI with this info And colluding w the Russians who are known to try to influence elections in the free world is just wrong period. So much about Trump and family is so wrong for what America stands for.

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  • Marianne
    07/13/2017
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    The American people demand a full investigation of the meetings between the Trump Presidential Campaign and Russia. The visible facts are extremely concerning and our democracy is compromised by these alleged dealings. Please support a full investigation of this matter and suspend all security clearances of those involved immediately until a satisfactory resolution has been reached. Thank you.

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  • L0u15e.N032L
    07/13/2017
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    In general. Yes he did. He and all those flirting and engaging Russians really for personal financial gain. Our Government is being sold and I'm not sure Congress is living up to their Constitutional mandate as the third equal arm of Government. Congress. Please step up and govern for all of us. Put Country before Party.

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  • Ryan
    07/12/2017
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    If the act itself is not illegal, the cover ups, lies and deception are. Please prosecute, impeach the implicated and restore dignity. This has gone on long enough.

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  • Clay
    07/12/2017
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    Hold Trump Jr , Manafort and Kushner accountable for there actions. Let our courts decide our future, not a group of Russian puppets. They knew what they were doing. All three were quite happy to continue lying about the situation until caught up in those lies. As Trump supporters liked to chant about Hillary, but with a small change. Lock them up, lock them up, lock them up!

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  • Tauna
    07/12/2017
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    I'm not a lawyer, but this is apparently unethical! These people should not have any clearance.

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  • Andrea
    07/13/2017
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    Trump family is as corrupt as they come. It's that simple.

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  • Kristen
    07/13/2017
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    I am not a lawyer and even I can see that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort all broke the law. Ignorance of the law doesn't matter. The fact that they say that the meeting gave them nothing of substance against Hillary Clinton doesn't matter. They broke the law. They all need to face criminal charges, and Jared Kushner needs to lose his security clearance NOW. Republicans need to stand up for America and do what is ethically and morally right. How long will the continue to look the other way and let our democracy go down in flames?

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  • Dawn
    07/13/2017
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    No, he met with someone from Russia for 20 minutes and they talked about Russia adoptions. How about we talk about the Uranium Hillary sold to Russia. Now that is collusion!

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