WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton’s former running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, said Donald Trump Jr. may have committed treason when he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer under the pretense of getting dirt on Clinton.
“We are now beyond obstruction of justice,” the Virginia Democrat told CNN Tuesday. “This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.”
Kaine’s comments follow a series of New York Times reports including one story Monday on an email sent to Trump Jr. last year stating that a Russian lawyer had “compromising” information about Hillary Clinton as “part of a Russian government effort” to help the Trump campaign. President Donald Trump’s oldest son tweeted Tuesday screenshots of an email exchange that he says are the emails setting up the meeting with the lawyer. That tweet came after Kaine’s comment.
Members of the Senate intelligence committee, which is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, said Monday they plan to invite Trump Jr. to testify. He tweeted that he would gladly speak with investigators.
Trump Jr. has not yet testified under oath on his connections with Russian. His attorney has dismissed the revelations as “much ado about nothing” and Trump Jr. said in a statement Tuesday morning that he thought the information being offered was “Political Opposition Research.”
“I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official,” Trump Jr. said in a statement he tweeted along with the emails. “And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act.”
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin cast doubt on the legal case for treason.
“I think treason is ridiculous, and I don’t think there’s any possibility that this is treason,” Toobin told CNN.
A spokesperson for Senator Kaine offered the following statement on the CNN story:
This morning, CNN asked Senator Kaine about the latest revelations that Donald Trump Jr. admitted to meeting with a lawyer he knew had Kremlin ties to receive compromising information about Hillary Clinton.
Senator Kaine stressed that nothing is proven yet. But he 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.
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
Manu Raju: Do you think this is treason?
Tim Kaine: That, the investigation – it, it’s not – nothing is proven yet. But, we’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements, and even into potentially treason.