Had Donald Trump Jr. sought advice from Don McGahn, the general counsel for his father’s campaign and now White House counsel and assistant to the president, he would have been told not to meet with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and her associates, Judge Andrew Napolitano said Monday.
“If I could have advised the president or Donald Trump Jr., I would have said ‘go to Don McGahn,” the judge and Fox News contributor said during an “America’s Newsroom” interview Monday.
“He would’ve said, ‘you want to talk to a KGB agent and a Russian lawyer … for research on Hillary? Tell the FBI. Do not bring them here.'”
Napolitano said an attorney such as McGahn would have advised against the meeting, as it is a “crime to receive something of value, when you’re a campaign official, from a foreign person or a foreign government.”
He acknowledged that the statute in question may not have been the best statute “in the world,” as freedom of speech allows campaign to gather information from wherever you want,” but still, when Congress wrote the law, they intended it to mean presidential campaigns could not take anything of value from a foreign government or from a person.
Veselnitskaya has denied she has ever worked for the Russian government, or that she had information about Clinton, but if she had, “that would have been a felony, a completion of a crime,” said Napolitano.
As it turns out, there is still enough to start an investigation, even if a crime may not have been committed, he said, as such events happen “in stages” and not all at once.
“The question is, is this enough to start an investigation?” said Napolitano. “The answer is yes, because it is suspicious that they met with these people. They did not consult a lawyer, and one of them is a former KGB intelligence member … why did Jared Kushner not tell the FBI about it [on his] national security application, unless he tried to hide something? If he was, was it because it was a foolish thing to do, or the beginning of some steps in acquiring this information?”
Napolitano also said he agrees with a Jonathan Turley opinion piece for USA Today, in which Turley writes that nepotism, such as what happened when Trump added son-in-law Kushner as a top adviser, “reduces the range of motion and dealing with scandal.”
“If the president of the United States has to decide between what is good for the White House and [his] family, he should not have that conflict,” said Napolitano.
There was one “glaring exception” to that rule, and that was when Robert Kennedy served as attorney general under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, Napolitano said, but “there is a different plane and level here … Donald Trump would be better served if he was not related to the people serving him.”