Buzzword emerges as Trump Jr. Russia scandal deepens: Treason

New revelations about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton has critics flirting with a new attack line — treason.

Sen. Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick, on Tuesday said that, while nothing has been proved, the conversation has moved beyond obstruction of justice — even before Trump Jr. released copies of his correspondence with music publicist Rob Goldstone, who brokered the June 2016 meeting.

“Nothing is proven yet. But, we’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated,” Kaine told CNN, when asked if Trump Jr.’s actions were treasonous. “This is moving into perjury, false statements and even into potentially treason.”

While Kaine stressed that nothing is proven, a Kaine spokesperson said the senator “acknowledged the grave impropriety, if proven, of any effort to cooperate with a foreign nation — especially one deemed by our military leaders to be a primary state adversary — to influence an American election.”

Echoes of that sentiment have started to take shape in other corners of Congress. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) tweeted out a New York Times report on the eldest Trump son’s emails on Tuesday, noting “if this isn’t treasonous, I’m not sure what is.”

Trump Jr. on Tuesday released what he said was the full email chain related to allegations that he knowingly set up a meeting with a Russian lawyer allegedly tied to the regime of President Vladimir Putin in order to obtain information that might “incriminate” Clinton, his father’s 2016 campaign opponent. Trump posted the emails on Tuesday in the hopes of “transparency,” he said, but the release came shortly before The New York Times published its own copy of the emails.

In a June 3, 2016, email with the subject line “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” Goldstone says Emin Agalarov, a singer-songwriter whose father is a Moscow-based developer who tried to partner with Donald Trump on a hotel project, “just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.”

The most explosive line in the exchange arrives via Goldstone, who calls the information “obviously very high level and sensitive information” and “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. later replies that he is “on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Ethics lawyer to former President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, told MSNBC over the weekend that early reports that Trump Jr. had met with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to get information on Clinton “borders on treason if it is not itself treason.”

“Let’s cut through the baloney here. We know what the Russians have been doing,” Painter said during a later appearance on the network. “When the Russians call or someone calls on behalf of the Russians and offers derogatory information about a former secretary of state who is a presidential candidate, the first person you call is the FBI.”

“I don’t care if you’re Republican, as I am, or a Democrat. You call the FBI. The last thing you do is go meet with the Russians to try and get the derogatory information,” he went on. “They’re only trying do that in order to use you to accomplish some purpose. And we know what that is — it is undermining our system of representative democracy.”

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