An early-morning tweet from President Donald Trump on Sunday is contradicting a statement he dictated on behalf of his son, Donald Trump Jr., last year regarding the infamous Trump Tower meeting between high-ranking members of the Trump campaign and Russian government liaisons.
A statement dictated by the President but released in Donald Trump Jr.’s name insisted that the topic discussed between Don Jr., Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Trump campaign advisor Jared Kushner and others was primarily Russian adoption.
Trump’s tweet this morning directly contradicts that story.
Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
This tweet does line up more closely with uncovered email correspondence between Trump Jr. and Russian intermediaries. When promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian team, Trump Jr. responded: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The president’s tweet is the most forthright statement yet on the motivations of the meeting, which is being scrutinized by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team as evidence of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Analysts on Twitter leaped to point this out.
The Russians offered damaging info on your opponent. Your campaign accepted. And the Russians delivered.
You then misled the country about the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting when it became public.
Now you say you didn’t know in advance. None of this is normal or credible. https://t.co/AEDYiIbXyY
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 5, 2018
President Trump today confessed that his son, son-in-law, and campaign chair met in June 2016 with Russian agents in hope of obtaining Russian intelligence to sway the 2016 election. Trump – who denies advance knowledge of the meeting – defends it as "totally legal."
— David Frum (@davidfrum) August 5, 2018
KEY QUESTION: If there was no underlying wrongdoing why did Trump lie TO HIS OWN LAWYER about his role in covering up the true purpose of the key event, the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 5, 2018
Trump fails to understand that the very meeting he is acknowledging is collusion — or conspiracy, if you will — to break campaign-finance laws. Insisting that it is legal to get dirt from a foreign national is politically and morally offensive https://t.co/9bEWFutU8M
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) August 5, 2018
The “totally legal” aspect of the tweet falls in lockstep with the latest spin in an ever-changing narrative put forth by the Trump administration.
While “no collusion” has been repeated incessantly by Trump officials and the president himself, it’s only recently that the president’s legal team has begun expressing skepticism as to whether or not collusion is, in fact, a crime.
The president first made the claim last year in an interview with the New York Times, saying, “there is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.”
The president’s head lawyer and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani posed the argument recently on CNN’s “New Day”:
they’re not going to be colluding with Russia, which I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians. You start analyzing the crime — the hacking is the crime…The President didn’t hack.
The president echoed the sentiments in a tweet soon after:
Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
The argument, according to legal experts, appears to be purely semantic.
While the word “collusion” is not specifically used in federal campaign finance laws, Title 52, Section 30121 states in part:
It shall be unlawful for—
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) recently pointed this out to Trump’s legal team in a pointed video via Twitter.
I’ve been hearing @realDonaldTrump and @RudyGiuliani claiming that ‘collusion is not a crime.’ Well, I took the liberty of reading the U.S. code myself. Here’s what the law actually says: pic.twitter.com/qW2GPxuDdC
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) August 1, 2018
Folks on Twitter broke it down for the president:
The Trump campaign received help from the Russian GRU to win the election. It had a monetary value so it’s a campaign contribution and the GRU is a foreign entity. Thus it’s an illegal campaign contribution. Mr. Trump you are guilty of collusion @realDonaldTrump
— David Gross (@DavidGr78574965) August 2, 2018
?how's this for simple:
secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy
esp. in order to cheat or deceive others
complicity, intrigue, plotting,
— kiwani (@kiwani) August 3, 2018
You can look it up for yourself.
— Griz (@grizatlcp) August 3, 2018
And called out Trump’s blatantly shifting narrative:
Progression on a thème:
« There was no collusion.
Okay, there was collusion, but it’s not a crime.
Okay, it is a crime, but the president is above the law.
Okay, the president is not above the law, but he can pardon himself, so there!… »#MAGA Morons Are Governing America
— Pamela Evans (@PamelaESciGal) August 6, 2018
Aaaaand there it is. From no meetings to no collusion to collusion’s not a crime to collusion is awesome. Your GOP, ladies and gentlemen.
— Lena (@byzantineicon) August 6, 2018
Before: No Collusion
Yesterday: Collusion not a crime
Today: Stop Russia probe
— Chuck Mojdehi (@chuck90025) August 1, 2018
As the president increases efforts to discredit Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and as more revelations unfold, it’s likely the tempestuous narratives will continue to shift. Eventually, enough spinning is bound to make anyone dizzy.