Donald Trump has lied, on multiple occasions, that he was never told about the traitorous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between the top members of his campaign team and Russian agents. To hear the lying president tell it, he was unaware of the meeting in advance, and also wasn’t briefed on it after it happened.
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney and personal fixer, is prepared to say to federal investigators that the worst president ever lied about this. Cohen is even willing to tell the Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Donald Trump was told about the meeting directly by his Donald Jr.
It’s difficult to determine with certainty who is telling the truth, but it’s quite amazing to see how Trump’s allies question his claims. Take Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as an example.
Issa was pressed by Fox News’s Neil Cavuto during an interview on whether Trump could face legal consequences if proof emerges that he knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that was billed to Donald Trump Jr. as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for Trump.
“If he’s proven to have not told the whole truth about the fact that campaigns look for dirt, and if someone offers it, you listen to them, nobody’s going to be surprised,” Issa told Cavuto. “There are some things in politics that you just take for granted.”
The California congressman might not have meant to assert something so bold, however, Issa nevertheless made it seem as if we should expect the president to tell lies about important details such as these.
Similarly, Jake Tapper of CNN asked Anthony Scaramucci, the ex-White House Communications Director yesterday, “Do you really find it credible that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort would have had this meeting where they were going to get all this dirt, allegedly, on Hillary Clinton for him to use against her, and they wouldn’t have told them about it?”
Scaramucci answered that it’s “possible” – which is a word that he repeated four times – that Donald Trump’s team told him about the meeting after it happened.
Even Scaramucci believes the president could be lying.
And what does it mean if he is? What if the top members of Donald Trump’s political operation tried to get dirt from Russia to help them steal the election, Donald Trump knew about it, and then he lied about it all?
The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand wrote a piece the other day saying that even if nothing important came out of the traitorous meeting, the president’s willingness to lie to the public about it might carry legal implications.
A law professor and the vice dean for Cornell Law School, Jens David Ohlin, said, “This reeks of a criminal conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter if nothing came of the meeting [although that’s far from clear]. If Trump knew about the meeting and was okay with it, Trump and those around him could be guilty of an inchoate conspiracy.”
A Fordham Law professor named Jed Shugerman,drew a very similar conclusion in an article for Slate, arguing that the president might be charged with conspiracy.
“The real problem for President Trump would be any subsequent conduct that might point to a conspiracy to defraud the United States or to obstruction of justice,” wrote Shugerman. “While ‘collusion’ might not be a crime under any federal statute, any collusive conduct by the Trump campaign could be prosecuted as a “conspiracy against the United States” under 18 U.S.C. Section 371.”
So, Darrell Issa thinks “nobody’s going to be surprised” when we discover that Trump was lying. Perhaps not. But that hardly means the president’s deception is unimportant.