Special counsel Robert Mueller will need to take a look at whether a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials with a group of Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton violated any federal statutes, but President Donald Trump is “clear of this,” Judge Andrew Napolitano said Tuesday.
“He didn’t know about this until The New York Times revealed it a year after it happened, and there is no testimony, not even out of the mouth of [former Trump attorney] Michael Cohen, as far as we can tell, to contradict the president,” Napolitano, the chief judicial analyst for Fox News, told “Fox and Friends.”
Trump, however, was correct that “everybody does it” when it comes to collecting information against a political rival, said Napolitano, but the real question is whether Trump Jr. and others violated federal statutes against campaigns receiving something of value from a foreign nation.
“A lot of these statutes are written to make it easier for the government to convict,” said Napolitano. “If there was an agreement to receive dirt on Hillary from the Russians, even if the dirt never came, if those who agreed, at least one of them, took some step in furtherance of the agreement, then there is the potential crime for conspiracy. But it doesn’t appear that the president was among them.”
Mueller, meanwhile, has not interviewed Trump Jr., but the president’s oldest son testified under oath before Congress said Napolitano, and he thinks the special prosecutor knows what was said.
“My guess is he has been consistent throughout that his father didn’t know about this until the news was broken by the New York Times a year later,” said Napolitano.
Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team said Monday it plans to send Mueller a letter turning down a meeting with the president if there are “questions related to obstruction of justice,” reports Fox News.
Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani said the move is not about rejecting a meeting, but instead, continuing negotiations
Napolitano said his “hat is off” to Giuliani’s patience, because it “seems like every time there is an agreement, Bob Mueller wants to move.”
He added that if he were advising Trump, he’d tell him that he would not “let him anywhere near Bob Mueller.”
“He knows a lot more about this case,” said Napolitano. “He has interviewed a lot more witnesses. When the government wants to talk to you, Mr. President, it’s to help the government. It’s not to help you.”
Napolitano said he thinks Giuliani has been giving “that very sound advice” to Trump, who has said he wants to tell his story.
“This is not the forum for him to tell his story,” said Napolitano. “He should just tell the American people ‘I want to tell the story but the lawyers have advised me [against it].”
Napolitano also noted that when former President Bill Clinton testified during his own legal proceedings, he agreed to do it under oath and in front of a camera, which “undermined him radically,” but he doesn’t think Trump will make that mistake.
“Rudy Giuliani is very, very smart and experienced when it comes to these things and is not going to let that happen,” he said.
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