A former Watergate prosecutor has said that Donald Trump’s behaviour in response to investigations into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia “cries out guilt”.
Nick Akerman, who was part of the Watergate special prosecutor team that eventually brought down Richard Nixon in the 1970s, likened statements coming from the White House and the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr, to that of Mr Nixon’s cover-up operation during his scandal.
“Everything this president had done cries out guilt,” Mr Akerman said in an interview with MSNBC.
“The whole investigation, and what’s going on here, and the statements being made by the White House people – Kushner, Don Jr, the President – it’s all being orchestrated by the President,” he added. “It’s not being driven by the lawyers. This is different than a normal criminal investigation.
“If they come out and they tell the truth – actually what happened – they’re going to lose their positions of influence. This is the same thing that happened with the Nixon White House and the people on top.”
Earlier this week, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, met with the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling investigators that he neither colluded with Russians nor knew anyone in the campaign who did.
During the presidential campaign, Mr Kushner attended a meeting in June 2016 meeting with Russians, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and his brother-in-law, Mr Trump Jr.
Mr Trump Jr released emails revealing that he had agreed to meet with a “Russian government lawyer” after being promised “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia”. In a statement, Mr Trump Jr said the lawyer they met with, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had no information about Ms Clinton and instead wanted to talk about a law that had sanctioned Russians.
In his opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr Kushner said he arrived late to Mr Trump Jr’s meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya and quickly determined that his time was not being well-spent by being there.
“If you look at the statements that Kushner made and you look at the statement that Don Jr made – what you can see is a very clever setup, whereby Don Jr is taking the fall,” Mr Akerman said. “He had no choice because he was the one that was on these emails. But yet, he says nothing happened out of that.”
“Then you’ve got Jared Kushner,” Mr Akerman continued, “who minimizes his involvement by saying he came in after they were talking about these incriminating documents and who left before anything else was said, even though he knew he was in a meeting with a bunch of people speaking Russian with a Russian interpreter.
“And on top of all of that, you have to look at what happened before and after. It just doesn’t make sense.”
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