Former President George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, talking MSNBC on Sunday, slammed Donald Trump Jr. for meeting a Russian lawyer who offered to provide damaging information on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 US presidential elections. He went as far as to claim that Trump Jr.’s act “borders on treason.”
“This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States,” Richard Painter said.
“We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”
Painter further elaborated that the Bush administration could have never considered such a meeting. The meeting with Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya was also attended by Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“If this story is true, we’d have one of them if not both of them in custody by now, and we’d be asking them a lot of questions,” he said. “This is unacceptable. This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason.”
Painter’s remarks come after The New York Times published a report on Sunday, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya after being promised compromising information on Donald Trump’s arch rival in the US elections, Hillary Clinton.
The report from the Times further claimed that Trump Jr. attended the meeting at Trump Tower with hopes that the lawyer had information on Clinton that help the Trump campaign.
In his statement to the newspaper on Sunday, Trump Jr. seemed to be justifying his connection to the lawyer, saying he had only met her at the request of a colleague. He also denied receiving any information regarding Clinton from Veselnitskaya.
“After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” he said. “Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Trump Jr. said.