Two of President Donald Trump‘s children — Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in specific — may face increased legal jeopardy due to their roles working on the Trump Tower Moscow Project for the their family, and later statements made about the extent of that work, according to a former U.S. Attorney and Department of Justice official.
Harry Litman previously served as the U.S. Attorney for both the Northern District of California and the Western District of Pennsylvania. Litman appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Monday to discuss some of the latest reporting concerning the Trump Organization’s Trump Tower Moscow endeavor.
During a panel discussion, host Andrea Mitchell previously discussed various ins-and-outs of the would-be Moscow deal in the context of then-candidate Trump’s highly-criticized praise of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin while on the campaign trail in 2016.
“The president had already gotten counterintelligence information that there was an investigation in play [about Russia],” Mitchell noted, “And he was calling for sanctions to be lifted against Moscow and making all sorts of pronouncements about Vladimir Putin.”
Mitchell then zeroed in on the benefits of the Moscow Project for Putin.
“This was a deal which included offering an incredible benefit to Vladimir Putin himself,” Mitchell said, in reference to reports that the Trump Organization had offered Putin a potential Trump Tower Moscow condominium valued at some $50 million.
“With all the controversy Harry, about the withdrawal from NATO, arguments he’s made at NATO summits–I’ve heard that from people who were in the room, who were leaders and heard it themselves. And the most recent lifting of sanctions against [Oleg] Deripaska, the [Paul] Manafort crony,” Mitchell noted before asking, “How does he get away with it politically?”
To which Litman replied:
Boy, you tell me. That’s at least the $32,000 question–if not the $64,000 question. There are so many events–you know, a couple dozen–that now look so different in the retrospective look, knowing that he was looking to, not just feather his nest, this was going to be his biggest project ever. Three hundred million dollars in the offing; something he had dreamed of forever. Something that also, by the way, deeply implicates Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump.
The one-time deputy assistant attorney general continued by noting that the president’s eldest son probably had the most to fear — “Donald Trump, Jr. in particular who may be very exposed now–to criminal liability–because he testified to Congress everything stopped [with the Trump Tower Moscow project] in 2014.”
Litman may be right that Donald Trump Jr. “in particular” has criminal liability, but it does not appear to be for the reason he suggested. Trump Jr.’s lawyers were recently moved to respond to reports, chiefly ones put out there by NPR and NBC News, that claimed Trump Jr.’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee conflicted on a fundamental question.
NPR’s update explained that the report “mischaracterized an answer Donald Trump Jr. gave to Senate investigators in 2017 about the prospective projects his family was negotiating with people in Moscow”:
The story reported that Trump Jr.’s response — that negotiations on one project concluded by the end of 2014 — contrasted with the version of events as laid out in the guilty plea by Michael Cohen on Thursday. In fact, Trump Jr. and investigators were alluding to a different set of negotiations — not to a deal that Cohen was reportedly pursuing. Trump Jr. did acknowledge in his testimony that Cohen and another man were exploring a possible deal in Moscow in 2015 or 2016.
Trump Jr. did not address what Cohen has now admitted — that talks about such a deal continued at least into June 2016, longer than previously known and well into the presidential campaign.
Trump Jr.’s lawyer Alan Futerfas said it was clear from context that his client was talking about two different potential deals.
“I have no concerns about Donald Trump Jr.’s information. He was open, straightforward, forthright and honest,” he said.
[image via screengrab/MSNBC]