Tomorrow, Donald Trump Jr is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors about his role in the Trump-Russia scandal. Now that Michael Flynn has cut a plea deal against the entire Trump family, the stakes are higher than ever. This evening, just hours before he’s set to testify, a bizarrely timed leak to the media may have just given him an unfair advantage – and someone involved with the probe may have committed a crime by leaking it.
This evening, NBC News published the entire transcript of the testimony that Russian government lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee about her Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr during the election (link). The testimony confirms that Junior did in fact use the meeting to seek damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which proves once and for all that he did indeed try to conspire with a foreign government to try to rig the election. This does make Junior look bad, but it’s nothing we didn’t already know. Here’s the suspicious part.
Thanks to the leak of this transcript, Donald Trump Jr now knows precisely what Veselnitskaya has said about their Trump Tower meeting. It means that when Junior testifies tomorrow, he can avoid stepping into a perjury trap. All he has to do is admit to precisely what Veselnitskaya has already confirmed, and nothing more, and call it a day. The timing of this leak suggests that it’s not merely a lucky break for Junior, and that someone is actively trying to help him.
To our knowledge, the only people who could possibly be in possession of the leaked transcript are Veselnitskaya herself, and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Veselnitskaya has been cooperating so enthusiastically with the investigation of late, for fear of losing access to her clients in the United States, it seems unlikely she’d do something so reckless. So this strongly suggests that one of the Republicans on the committee leaked the testimony. If it was done with the intent of helping Junior avoid prosecution, that’s arguably obstruction of justice. Robert Mueller may now have to take down a Republican Senator.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report