Donald Trump Jr. released emails suggesting ‘incriminating information” about his father’s Democratic campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.
Days after President Donald Trump’s oldest son acknowledged meeting last year with a Russian in hopes of getting dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Arizona’s congressional delegation largely viewed the matter through the usual partisan prism.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, the most-senior member of the state’s Capitol Hill lawmakers, repeated his comparison of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to a “centipede” with many shoes yet to drop.
“As I’ve said many times in the past, there’s another shoe that will drop and there are other shoes that will drop,” McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters on Tuesday.
Donald Trump Jr. released on Tuesday emails that leave no doubt he was interested in the possibility of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia,” offered as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
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McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, subsequently told a reporter for the website RealClearPolitics that neither his senior campaign aides nor his sons would have been inclined to deal with Russians to receive negative material about a political rival.
“My sons are in the military, they’d be court-martialed,” McCain was quoted as saying, per the reporter’s tweet.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is running for re-election in 2018, kept his distance from the developing story.
“There is a bipartisan Senate committee and a special counsel looking into that. I am sure they’ll get to the bottom of it,” Flake said in a written statement.
But other Republicans dismissed the June 2016 meeting and the series of related emails Trump Jr. released or maintained a public silence on the matter, which first came to light Saturday.
Democrats see vindication
Arizona Democrats, meanwhile, said confirmation of the meeting vindicates their continued calls for a complete investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“It is now absolutely clear that the Trump campaign understood that the Russian government was looking to help the campaign, and that the campaign at its highest levels was eager to seek and accept that assistance,” said U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., an outspoken critic of the president.
“The Trump campaign and the Trump administration have been lying about this for over a year. If any other campaign had gotten an email saying that the Russian government wanted to help the campaign, they would have contacted the FBI immediately,” Gallego continued. “But not the Trump campaign. Instead, the president’s son, president’s son-in-law, and the campaign manager took a meeting to see what dirt they could get from the Russians.”
‘Smoke on a wet log’
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said the younger Trump’s decision to release the email chain “was absolutely the right move,” but he still views the Russia investigation as having little merit.
“I think this is just smoke on a wet log that the Democrats keep trying to light on fire,” he told the Fox Business Network. “There’s nothing there. You’ll see there’s nothing there. It was a brief meeting ostensibly over opposition research. … I’m not even sure it’s a poor judgment call. Maybe it was handled in a clumsy fashion, but the reality is everybody’s seeking opposition research on their opponents.”
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., didn’t address Russian interference, but did suggest the matter was played up for political purposes.
“I don’t remember this much attention given to the previous administration when they used American tax dollars on a campaign to oust (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu,” he said. “The left couldn’t even find Russia on a map until they learned it could hurt Donald Trump. This story is part of an endless campaign to gridlock Washington and undermine the American people’s decision in November to implement the GOP agenda.”
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., didn’t elaborate on the latest turn in the Russia case and instead pointed to the ongoing investigation.
“The Justice Department has assigned a special counsel to investigate Russia’s attempted interference in our election, and I am hopeful that investigation currently underway will provide answers that Americans are seeking,” she said.
McSally has previously called Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey “deeply concerning,” but has largely sidestepped the larger issue of Russian interference in the election.
For years, Russia’s government has tried to lift U.S. sanctions that the Magnitsky Act created.a
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Dems: Probes must continue
U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., said the latest information makes clear the Russia investigation must go on.
“This is about putting country above politics,” he said in a statement. “No American should ever work with a foreign government to interfere with our democracy.
“It is critical that we allow any investigation into Russia’s efforts to undermine our electoral process to continue unabated and get to the bottom of this. The American people deserve answers, and they deserve them now,” O’Halleran said.
Gallego worried Trump will either fire former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the election, or issue pardons pre-emptively to thwart the Mueller probe. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have been dismissive of the matter because Trump supports their efforts on repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting taxes for the wealthy, Gallego said.
Some aren’t talking
Republican Reps. Paul Gosar and David Schweikert made no public remarks on their usual social-media channels and didn’t respond to The Arizona Republic’s request for comment.
U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who is often mentioned as a potential challenger to Flake, was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
Sinema has previously called for an independent investigation of Russian interference, saying, “Americans deserve the truth, wherever it leads.”
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