Donald Trump Jr. asked a Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, the lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee in answers to written questions obtained exclusively by NBC News.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told the committee that she didn’t have any such evidence, and that she believes Trump misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from a music promoter promising incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent.
Once it became apparent that she did not have meaningful information about Clinton, Trump seemed to lose interest, Veselnitskaya said, and the meeting petered out. …
Veselnitskaya said there was no discussion at the Trump Tower meeting of hacked or leaked emails, social media campaigns or any of the other main aspects of Russian interference in the U.S. election. …
Though some may see her answers as self-serving, Veselnitskaya’s written answers reinforced what has long been understood about the Trump Tower meeting: that Donald Trump Jr. accepted it on the promise of incriminating information about Clinton that he had been told was coming from the Russian government.
This adds more detail filling in what has now been well-established, which is that Don Jr. and other top Trump campaign officials eagerly took this meeting in the full expectation that they’d be getting dirt on Clinton furnished by the Russian government, which was trying to tip the election to his father. — gs
* Peter Sullivan reports that Republicans can’t even trust each other:
Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office told a meeting of congressional leadership offices on Monday that the Speaker is not part of a deal to get ObamaCare fixes passed before the end of the year, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a commitment to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that he would support passage of two bipartisan ObamaCare bills before the end of the year, a promise that helped win her vote for tax reform.
However, Ryan’s office told a meeting of staff from the four top congressional leadership offices on Monday that he has not made that same commitment, raising further questions about whether the ObamaCare bills, already opposed by House conservatives, can pass the House.
If only someone could have predicted that the promises to Collins weren’t worth a dime. Oh yeah, everybody except Collins knew that.
* Sahil Kapur explains who the winners and losers of the GOP tax plan are:
Some of the biggest losers under the Republican tax overhaul include upper-middle class families in high-tax areas like New York City, graduate students, government workers and public school teachers.
The one thing they have in common? They’re mostly Democrats…
“It’s death to Democrats,” said conservative economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump’s campaign on tax policy.
“They go after state and local taxes, which weakens public employee unions. They go after university endowments, and universities have become play pens of the left. And getting rid of the mandate is to eventually dismantle Obamacare,” Moore said in an interview, arguing that it would accelerate “a death spiral” in the health-care law’s marketplaces.
It’s refreshing to hear an influential Republican be so candid that GOP tax policy is about screwing over Americans who don’t happen to vote for their party. Meanwhile, Democrats are desperately trying to get Republican constituencies health care.
* A new Quinnipiac poll finds the same 29 percent approval, with 61 percent saying it favors the rich over the middle class and only 20 percent saying they think it will reduce their taxes. Also, President Trump’s approval is at only 35 percent.
* Cameron Joseph reports that the RNC is sending just $50,000 and no staff to support Roy Moore in Alabama, which sounds a lot like “Make the president think we’re on board but don’t do all that much.”
* Heather Timmons examines the three billionaire families battling for control of the GOP.
* Michael Tomasky explains how out of touch Republicans have become with Blue America.
* And Peter Montgomery reports that Moore said that George Soros is going to hell, apparently because he’s Jewish.