Russia wasn’t the only foreign government trying to help Trump win the election. Last week’s bombshell on that subject competed for attention with two other big stories:
— The Senate Judiciary Committee released interview transcripts relating to the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s top campaign advisers and Russians promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton; and
— Trump made an unprecedented demand: The Justice Department should investigate the unfounded claim that the FBI had placed spies in his 2016 presidential campaign. In other words, Trump is now openly issuing orders in an investigation for which he is a subject.
But an August 2016 rendezvous that Erik Prince arranged between Donald Trump Jr. and George Nader as an emissary from two foreign powers could reverberate beyond wherever those two stories lead. At a minimum, it sure looks like Prince and Don Jr. have a serious legal problem. And that is very bad news for Trump.
Erik Prince Testifies
— He had no formal role in the Trump campaign, except as a donor, fundraiser, and occasional supplier of foreign policy position papers to Steve Bannon. (Prince did admit to having a Trump sign on his lawn. That sarcastic comment typified his cavalier and irreverent congressional performance; the joke is now on him.)
— He had minimal interactions with Don Jr. (“I met him at a campaign event… I ran into him a couple of times when I was up there [at Trump Tower] during the transition.”).
— His January 2017 meeting with a Russian close to Putin in the Seychelles was a chance encounter having nothing to do with the incoming Trump administration or its policies.
The Truth Emerges
Now go to the Trump-Russia Timeline, click on Prince’s name, and see what the truth looks like.
— In August 2016, Prince set up a meeting that included Don Jr., Nader as an emissary from the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and a specialist at social media manipulation.Through Nader, Saudi Arabia and UAE offered their assistance to help Trump win the election.
— Witnesses to the January 2017 Seychelles meeting have contradicted Prince’s account. They say it was an organized gathering aimed at easing US-Russia relations.
It’s worth noting here that prior to Prince’s congressional testimony in November 2017, he visited the office of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) — Trump’s principal Republican congressional ally in the effort to derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In March 2018, Prince co-hosted a fundraiser for “Putin’s favorite congressman”, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
And Then There’s Don Jr.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 7, 2017, Donald Trump Jr. provided answers that lined up nicely with Prince’s but, like Prince’s, are now problematic:
“Q: We’ve talked a lot about Russia. So I have some broader questions about other foreign governments. Did other foreign governments offer or provide assistance to the Trump campaign?
“Don Jr: None that I’m aware of.
“Q: Did other foreign nationals offer or provide assistance to the Trump campaign?
“Don Jr: No.
“Q: Did you directly or indirectly seek foreign government or foreign nationals assistance for the Trump campaign?
“Don Jr: No.
“Q: Are you aware of anyone else seeking foreign government or foreign nationals assistance for the Trump campaign?
“Don Jr: I’m not.
“Q: Did you ever tell anyone that you or the Trump campaign would be receptive to offers of assistance from foreign governments or foreign nationals?
“Don Jr: No.” (Transcript pp. 208-209)
Through his attorney, Don Jr. acknowledged on May 20, 2018, that the August 2016 meeting occurred:
“Prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”
The Problem With Lies
So it seems that yet another “Flynn situation” has emerged. That is, it sure looks like Erik Prince and Donald Trump Jr. made statements to federal investigators that weren’t true. Why? Even more damning than Flynn’s dissembling about his communications with Russians during the transition, Prince and Don Jr. may be at the center of a more important unfolding storyline: If other foreign governments wanted to help Trump win the election, Prince could be a matchmaker and Don Jr. would be all ears.
That’s not good.
Here’s a complete list of this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline updates:
JAN. 19, 2016: Goldstone Pushes Russian Social Media Campaign; Graff Responds
FEB. 29, 2016: Agalarov Sends Trump A Super-Tuesaday Greeting
JUNE 8, 2016: Goldstone Offers Trump Help From Russian Social Media Giant
JUNE 9, 2016: Don Jr., Manafort, Kushner Meet With Russian Lawyer (revision of previous entry)
JUNE 14, 2016: Goldstone Emails Emin Agalarov and Ike Kaveladze (revision of previous entry)
JUNE 29, 2016: Goldstone Again Pitches Help From Russian Social Media
AUG. 3, 2016: Don Jr. Meets With Emissary From Saudi Arabia and UAE
AUG. 17, 2016: Trump Receives First National Security Briefing (revision of previous entry)
JAN. 11, 2017: Cohen Falsely Claims No Trump-Russia Contacts
JUNE 2-5, 2017: Goldstone Responds to Garten
JUNE 27, 2017: Goldstone Complains To Emin Agalarov About Heat From June 9, 2016 Meeting
JULY 9, 2017: Goldstone Complains About Publicity Surrounding June 2016 Trump Tower Meeting
JULY 9-10, 2017: Goldstone Seeks Help Responding To Media Stories About June 2016 Meeting
JULY 10, 2017: Emin Agalarov on Trump Tower Meeting: “No Comment”
JULY 11, 2017: “Why Did He Release This E-Mail Admitting Collusion?”
SEPT. 7, 2017: Don Jr. Talks to Senate Intelligence Committee (revision of previous entry)
NOV. 30, 2017: Prince Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee (revision of previous entry)
APR. 18, 2018: Trump Tweets About Stormy Daniels (revision of previous entry)
MAY 15, 2018: Putin Drives Across New Bridge Connecting Russia and Crimea
MAY 15, 2018: Trump Tweets “Witch Hunt” “No Collusion”
MAY 15, 2018: Federal Judge Denies Manafort Motion to Dismiss Indictment
MAY 15, 2018: Trump Eliminates Top Cybersecurity Policy Coordinator
MAY 15-16, 2018: Trump Belatedly Reports Cohen Reimbursement
MAY 16, 2018: Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Issue Preliminary Findings on June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting
MAY 16, 2018: Senate Intelligence Committee Report Disputes House Report: Putin Wanted Trump to Win
MAY 17, 2018: Trump Tweets “No Collusion” “No Obstruction” “Witch Hunt”
MAY 17, 2018: Manafort’s Former Son-In-Law Makes Plea Deal
MAY 18-20, 2018: Trump Tweets Culminate Demanding DOJ Investigation
MAY 20, 2018: Rosenstein Responds To Trump Demand
MAY 20, 2018: RNC Has Paid Almost $500,000 In Legal Fees to Hicks and Others
MAY 21, 2018: Trump’s Twitter-Storm Against Russia Investigation Continues