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DOUBLE STANDARD: If Trump Jr. Committed a Crime, So Did McCain When He Sought Dirt From Foreign Spy


Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made headlines this week, promising more bombshells and shoe-drops in the interminable Russia scandal engulfing media coverage of the Trump presidency.

The octogenarian lawmaker and Trump critic who actually agrees with Trump over 90 percent of the time mentioned shoes dropping on at least three occasions after Donald Trump Jr. released an email chain detailing how he came to be acquainted with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

As the belabored media and so-called “resistance” discourse nonsensically focuses on Trump Jr.’s alleged crimes viz. the Veselnitskaya meet-and-greet, let’s take a look back at when John McCain himself sought the help of a foreign spy in order to damage president-elect Donald J. Trump.

Briefly, the dossier began as an item on the wish-list of one of Trump’s GOP primary rivals who contracted a former British spy to put it all together based on rumors of scandalous Trump adventures in Moscow.

As the primary drew to a close, the dossier morphed into a prize sought by an unnamed client associated with the Democratic Party. Its contents were compiled, but went nowhere, so the ex-spy presented his findings to the FBI, who weren’t particularly interested.

Eventually, the broad strokes were leaked to journalist David Corn. And finally, whispers of the entire package’s availability made their way to McCain’s ears at a security confab in Canada on November 18, 2016.

McCain was quite nearly able to express sustained excited emotion at the possibility of salacious dirt surfacing about the man who disparaged his time at the Hanoi Hilton. So, the war-loving senator immediately sent a “trusted emissary” to obtain the dossier in its entirety. And, after mutedly staring at its pages for a few days, the once-and-never maverick turned all of its urine-splashed-and-centric contents over to then-FBI Director James Comey.

(The convoluted construction of the pee tapes dossier is outlined in full here by the Guardian.)

So, what separates John McCain’s admitted collusion with a foreign intelligence professional from Donald Trump Jr.’s fruitless meeting with a Russian attorney? Nothing really.

To be clear, it’s exceedingly unlikely that Donald Trump Jr. committed any sort of chargeable offense by meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower and it’s less likely he’ll be charged with anything even if he did break the law. But if Trump Jr., “high-quality person” that he is, broke the law, then so did John McCain.

The same statutory gotcha language that has liberal hearts aflutter at the prospect of impending legal doom for the younger Trump could easily be applied to their on-again, off-again BFF John McCain.

That law is 11 CFR 110.20. Section (b) reads:

Contributions and donations by foreign nationals in connection with elections. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.

If Veselnitskaya’s non-dirt qualifies as a “thing of value” under the statute, then the highly controversial contents of the pee tape dossier would very likely qualify, too. And, since the construction of the dossier began during the GOP primary, the “in connection with [an] election” element would easily be satisfied as well.

As for McCain’s role, take a look at sections (g) and (h) of that same statute:

(g) Solicitation, acceptance, or receipt of contributions and donations from foreign nationals. No person shall knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section.

(h) Providing substantial assistance.

(1) No person shall knowingly provide substantial assistance in the solicitation, making, acceptance, or receipt of a contribution or donation prohibited by paragraphs (b) through (d), and (g) of this section.

Again, if Donald Trump Jr. is guilty of solicitation in line with the above law–and if his brief meeting qualifies as “substantial assistance”–then McCain’s extraordinary decision to dispatch a document fetcher forthwith would go above and beyond anything the elephant-hunting Trump did when he sat down with Veselnitskaya that day.

So, if things get really bad for the Trump clan on this front–that is, if Donald Jr. gets roped into the robes and gavels of law–there’s a distractive prosecution-in-waiting that would also offer Trump-level tit-for-tat. The book here is light, but if it’s getting thrown at one dirt-seeker, then why not ball it up and throw it at another?

[image via screengrab; video courtesy Yahoo News]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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