House intel Republicans said they found no evidence of collusion or crimes. Perhaps that's because they didn't look for either.
A bombshell report published Saturday by The New York Times reveals the existence of a second Trump Tower meeting and provides the first indication that a country other than Russia offered to help the Trump campaign in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
The report — which details an August 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Blackwater founder Erik Prince (who is also the brother of Betsy DeVos), an emissary for two Arab princes, and an Israeli social media specialist promising a plan to help Trump win the election — opens up an entire new line of questioning about why Trump associates were so eager to meet with representatives of foreign governments offering assistance to the campaign.
"It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections, and it is unclear what—if any—direct assistance Saudi Arabia and the Emirates may have provided. But two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners," The Times reported.
The revelation of a second Trump Tower meeting during which Donald Trump Jr. received an offer of help from officials representing two other foreign governments — the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — also blows a huge hole in the already flimsy final report released this month by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
House intel Republicans ended their Russia investigation in March, declaring that they found no evidence of wrongdoing, no collusion, and no crimes committed by anyone they interviewed or investigated. They also broke with the intelligence community and said Russia had not attempted to help Trump win the election.
When the Majority report was released earlier this month, Republicans effectively declared 'case closed' and shut the book on investigating the Trump campaign so they could move on to more important matters — like risking the life of an FBI informant in an attempt to shield Trump from scrutiny.
The Times' report reveals that House intel Republicans were completely in the dark about this second Trump Tower meeting (or if they knew about, they concealed it and failed to investigate it), calling into question what other major revelations they may have left out of their report or never even looked at.
Furthermore, the presence of Erik Prince at the August 2016 meeting seems to show that he lied to the House intel committee during sworn testimony. On Nov. 30, 2017, Prince testified, under oath, that he had no formal communication or contact with the Trump campaign.
"So there was no formal communication or contact with the campaign?" Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) asked Prince during his interview before the House intel committee.
"Correct," Prince responded.
With Blockbuster NYT report ("Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election")...
1. Meeting was arranged and attended by Erik Prince.
2. Compare this to what Prince told Congress and looks a lot like perjury.
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) May 19, 2018
Prince mentioned that he met Trump Jr. once "at a campaign event" and again at Trump Tower "during the transition" — but he never mentioned the meeting in August 2016, when an Israeli social media specialist offered a "multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort," and an emissary, George Nader, informed Trump Jr. that the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were "eager to help" the campaign.
This isn't the first time Prince's testimony before the House intel committee has been called into question. Special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly has evidence contradicting Prince's claim that a meeting he attended in the Seychelles with a Putin ally was an unplanned encounter. Nader, a cooperating witness, reportedly told Mueller's team that he helped arrange the meeting in advance — undermining what Prince said during his testimony.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House intel committee, called into question the accuracy of Prince's testimony in early March. At the time, he asked his GOP colleagues — the only ones who have subpoena power — to bring Prince back for a second interview to address inconsistencies in his testimony.
But Republicans ignored his request. Just four days later, they ended the committee's Russia probe without ever calling Prince back for additional testimony.
Given that House intel Republicans missed such a major development and failed to follow up on misleading testimony despite requests from their Democratic colleagues, it's hard to take them seriously when they claim they found "no collusion." They didn't find evidence of this meeting, either, nor did they find evidence that Prince lied to them — yet the evidence was there.
It's easy not to find something when you don't even look for it.