08 November 2019 04:44

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When news surfaced that the eldest son of President Donald Trump wouldn't face charges from Robert Mueller, following him submitting his final report on the Russia investigation to Attorney General William Barr in March, a lot of people were caught off guard. Trump Jr.'s impending indictment was assumed by some pundits to be a given, seeing that he expressed excitement at the prospects of meeting with a Russian lawyer (who had deep ties to Moscow), who promised him dirt on Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 campaign. Surprise abounded across the political world when Trump Jr. wasn't indicted by Mueller following the latter's submission of the Russia report. "Whether the special counsel concluded at the end of the day that someone like Don, Jr. didn't have the mental capacity — and I use that term specifically — because he didn't have the intent, because he didn't understand politics, whatever the basis for saying a crime wasn't committed is important to know," Bash said. (CNN) Robert Mueller's team declined to prosecute Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the campaign for campaign finance violations for their participation in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, in part, because they couldn't prove that they "willfully" violated the law.

"Taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting," Mueller's team explained. "The Office ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law," the team continues. On June 9, 2016, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. According to tweets published by Trump Jr. in July 2017, publicist Rob Goldstone sent Trump Jr. an email on behalf of his client Emin Agalarov to suggest the meeting regarding potential dirt on Clinton. That seems to be the case for Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who managed to avoid being charged for violating campaign finance law by not being smart enough to know that they were engaging in unlawful activity.

In summarizing his findings from the infamous June 2016 meeting between members of the Trump campaign and Russian Natalia Veselnitskaya, Robert Mueller wrote that unlawful activity did take place, but the men who broke them were unaware of their illegal actions. 'On the facts here, the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful,' reads the report. Off the hook: The Mueller Report states that the meeting between Russian Natalia Veselnitskaya and members of the Trump campaign was illegal (l to r: Donald Trump, Don Jr and Jared Kushner above in 2009) 'Even assuming that the promised "documents and information that would incriminate Hillary" constitute a "thing of value" under campaign-finance law, the government would encounter other challenges in seeking to obtain and sustain a conviction,' wrote Mueller. Much has been said and speculated about the meeting, which according to Mueller was proposed to Donald Trump Jr. in an email from publicist Robert Goldstone. In his call to Don Jr, Goldstone 'offered to provide the Trump Campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.' 'Participants agreed that Veselnitskaya stated that the Ziff brothers had broken Russian laws and had donated their profits to the DNC or the Clinton Campaign,' states the report.

Don Jr then asked Veselnitskaya how this could be tied back to the Clintons according to the report, a question that the Russian lawyer dismissed by stating she does not track money once it has entered the United States. The aim of Veselnitskaya, who according to the report appeared to be working on behalf of the Russian government and Aras Agalarov, was to try and overturn the Magnitsky Act. In closing out the reasons why no charges would be pursued, Mueller broke down the potential problems with getting a conviction for the three campaign members. 'Additionally, in light of the unresolved legal questions about whether giving "documents and information" of the sort offered here constitutes a campaign contribution, Trump Jr. could mount a factual defense that he did not believe his response to the offer and the June 9 meeting itself violated the law,' wrote Mueller. On page 59 of the report, Mueller describes interactions that Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, had with WikiLeaks, the organization that helped disseminate the hacked DNC emails. WikiLeaks had been passed the log-in credentials for the website putintrump.org, a website set up by a PAC linking the president to Russia.

According to the report, a few hours after that tweet, WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr.: "A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch. Several hours after that, according to Mueller's report, Trump Jr. sent the following message to "a variety of senior campaign staff": The red flag that sticks out is the part where Trump Jr. writes, "I tried the password and it works." As far as my understanding of cybercrime law goes, this act, even on its own, could be construed as criminal. Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, played a central role in the White House's handling of the fallout from the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked lawyer. Hicks told special counsel Robert Mueller that she was "shocked" by emails sent between Donald Trump Jr. and a music publicist who helped set up the meeting as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Hope Hicks, who left her position as White House communications director and top confidante to President Donald Trump early last year, played a central role in the White House's handling of media reports in July 2017 that members of Trump's inner circle met with a Russian official promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in June 2016. By the first week of June 2017, White House and Trump campaign officials became aware of emails sent between Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who helped set up a Trump Tower meeting as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Hicks told Mueller that she discussed the emails between Trump Jr. and Goldstone with the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kusher in June 2017.

She then attended a meeting with Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and the president in the White House residence on or about June 22. Read more: White House counsel Don McGahn refused the president's order to publicly deny that Trump ordered him to fire Mueller Hicks said that Kushner attempted to tell the president about the Trump Tower meeting and related emails, but that Trump "stopped Kushner and said he did not want to know about it, shutting the conversation down," the report found. Mueller wrote that Hicks was "shocked" by the messages because they "looked really bad" and, the next day, privately met with the president to discuss them. Later that same day, Hicks, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump all met with the president. "Hicks warned the President that the emails were 'really bad' and the story would be 'massive' when it broke, but the President was insistent that he did not want to talk about it and they should not go to the press," Mueller wrote in the report.