Analysts, journalists and officials expressed shock Tuesday following the release of Donald Trump Jr.'s emails regarding a meeting with a Russian lawyer who had Kremlin ties.
Trump Jr. posted his June 2016 email exchange with Ron Goldstone, a contact who offered to arrange a meeting in which then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump's son believed he would learn damaging information about his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In the wake of the explosive revelations, Paul S. Ryan of the nonpartisan advocacy group Common Cause said, "Whether or not he actually received that information does not matter in the eyes of the law. Trump’s solicitation of the information is what constitutes the violation."
While opposition research by political campaigns is certainly not unusual, a member of a presidential candidate's team gathering information about an opponent from any foreign national, especially someone connected with a foreign government, would be a violation of campaign laws. Michael Luo of The New Yorker tweeted an excerpt of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
"It is shocking," said Ryan, "that Donald Trump Jr. did not immediately contact federal authorities when he was offered information, supposedly from the Russian government, intended to undermine the 2016 election. Donald Trump Jr. clearly chose to put his father’s campaign before his country and that is deeply troubling."
In The Hill, legal scholar Jonathan Turley argued that Trump Jr.'s emails exhibit incompetence more than they do collusion.
"If the Russians were making such a play to influence the election in favor of Trump, this is a curious way of going about it. The most obvious question is why the Russians would call such a meeting but not actually produce any evidence or even substantive allegations. One obvious explanation is that Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort fell for a classic bait-and-switch."
The former U.S. ambassador to Russia under Barack Obama, as well as Obama's special counsel for ethics, weighed in on Twitter.
Wow, I'll let the experts judge the legalities here, but engaging the Russian government to influence our elections is deeply unethical. https://t.co/AMcBxAkXOx— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) July 11, 2017
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee which is investigating the Trump administration's ties to Russia, said that the time for debate over whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, has officially past.
No longer a question that the Trump campaign sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert American democracy.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) July 11, 2017
Other lawmakers including Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for Trump Jr. to testify before the committee. But the president's son has only confirmed one upcoming appearance: Tuesday evening on Fox News, where he'll discuss his June 2016 meeting with conservative host Sean Hannity.