Just in case you were distracted elsewhere, keep in mind that the Russia probe has not gone away.
Let’s revisit that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, between a Russian attorney, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, and several others.
A new report from NBC News zeroes in on the notes taken by Paul Manafort that day, and several “oddities” that caught the attention of investigators.
Manafort’s notes, typed on a smart phone and described by one briefed source as cryptic, were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They contained the words “donations,” and “RNC” in close proximity, the sources said.
As NBC News has reported, Mueller is also closely scrutinizing the Trump Tower meeting, which was hosted by President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and was attended by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, along with Manafort.
Quick recap: Why were they all meeting that day?
Well, apparently, Trump Jr. felt it was to receive damaging info on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
It was later said that the meeting eventually swerved to a request to help end the Magnitsky Act, legislation that imposed sanctions on Russian officials found guilty of human rights violations. Because of the passage of the bill, Russian President Vladimir Putin ended a popular adoption program for Americans seeking Russian children to adopt.
That’s what they said it turned to.
In tow with the Kremlin-connected attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was said to be an interpreter, the Trump associate who set up the meeting, and one other.
She was accompanied by Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who testified recently before a grand jury in Washington, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.
Akhmetshin declined to comment on his testimony. A spokesman for Manafort did not respond to a request for comment.
NBC News reported earlier this week that Mueller’s investigators are keenly focused on President Donald Trump’s role in crafting a response to the New York Times article that first disclosed the meeting.
Yup. The news we’re talking about is the story that allegedly Donald Trump told his son how to respond to questions about the meeting.
The president dictated a statement sent out under the name of his son that was drafted aboard Air Force One, people familiar with the matter have said.
It described the 2016 meeting as “a short introductory meeting.”
“I asked Jared and Paul to stop by,” the statement said. “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”
According to the New York Times, he added: “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
Liar, liar! Pants on fire!
Emails showed that everyone was on the same page, as far as a Russian oligarch handing over damaging oppo-research on Hillary Clinton.
A person familiar with Mueller’s strategy said that whether or not Trump made a “knowingly false statement” is now of interest to prosecutors.
“Even if Trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement, it could be useful to Mueller’s team to show Trump’s conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges,” the person said.
But for now, let’s focus on “donations” and “RNC.”
It could be a lot of things, but the further we go, the deeper Manafort seems to be in it.