WASHINGTON — The top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees said Sunday Trump campaign officials may have committed a crime if a new report proves true: that three months before the 2016 election, President Trump’s son met with two Arab princes and an Israeli political operative who offered to help his father win the presidential election.
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump Jr. met on Aug. 3, 2016 with two wealthy princes, from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, along with Joel Zamel, an Israeli expert in “social media manipulation.”
The three men reportedly told Trump Jr. that they wanted to support the Trump campaign. Zamel even said his firm “had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump,” according to the New York Times story.
“If these facts are accurate, it demonstrates yet again just how not only willing but eager the president’s son and the Trump campaign were to solicit, to receive foreign help” during the election, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, said on NBC’s Meet the Press. Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
“Receiving, soliciting, using foreign assistance is a crime,” Schiff said. “You’re not allowed to get the help of a foreign government, friendly or unfriendly,” in American elections.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said if the New York Times story is true, it’s yet another indication that a foreign nation was trying to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
““I don’t understand what the president doesn’t get about the law that says if you have a foreign nation interfere in an American election, that’s illegal,” Warner said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Nation.
Warner said that Trump Jr.’s reported meeting with the three Middle Eastern officials is similar to his sit-down with Russian agents to discuss what he thought would be incriminating information on Hillary Clinton in June 2016. Trump Jr. took that meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian lobbyist, among others, because he thought they had damaging information about Clinton.
Both meetings are reportedly being investigated by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was appointed to probe Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
The New York Times story and Mueller’s investigation was clearly on the president’s mind on Sunday morning as well. In a series of tweets, Trump blasted the probe as an “expensive Witch Hunt” that has not turned up any evidence against him.
“Things are really getting ridiculous,” Trump said in one tweet. “The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!”
“….At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP!” Trump wrote in a second missive. “They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption…” in the Clinton campaign.