Espionage

Could Trump Jr., Kushner, or Manafort Be Charged Under the Espionage Act?

By Michel Paradis
Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 7:22 PM

Below is an excerpt from a piece that appeared on our Foreign Policy feed earlier today.

The current focal point of the Russia scandal is the confab at Trump Tower, an Apalachin meeting of sorts in which at least eight agents of the Trump campaign and the Russian government met to discuss the Russian opposition research on the Clintons. The Russians apparently offered this information in exchange for the Trump campaign’s willingness to hear them out on the Magnitsky Act. Donald Trump Jr. has protested that nothing ever came of this.

Over the weekend, however, the Associated Press reported on an interview it conducted with one of the Russians at the meeting. Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer, claimed that the Russian lawyer who ran the meeting, Natalya Veselnitskaya, not only promised to give the Trump campaign dirt on the Clintons, but actually presented her interlocutors with “a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats.”

Apparently, Trump Jr. was unimpressed with the contents of the plastic folder and asked Veselnitskaya whether she had more concrete evidence. The plastic folder, therefore, may have just contained propaganda. Whether Trump Jr. took the plastic folder with him or whether he left it behind in the conference room is unclear. What was clear, however, was the intent. According to the AP report, “Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to Trump Jr. and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign.” And receiving this plastic folder, assuming it really happened, may have implicated the participants in espionage.

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