Fox News guest tells anchor that "the Mueller investigation has merit to continue"
Tom Rogan: Russian lawyer's presence at Trump Tower meeting shows "a Russian intelligence effort to create effect in the American democratic process"
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From the May 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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BILL HEMMER (ANCHOR): Another alert now, this is what we've been waiting on. Senate Judiciary Committee now releasing 2500 documents relating to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that took place between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer with apparent links to the Kremlin. Tom Rogan, politics, foreign policy writer, Washington Examiner, you've been going through these, Tom, good morning to you. What have you been able to summarize so far in the past couple of minutes?
TOM ROGAN (WASHINGTON EXAMINER): Well, in a challenge to us in the news business these documents were released just now, but the basic premise here I think is what are we going to be looking at here? We have testimony from a number of individuals, a number of Russians as well as the Russian lawyer who was present at that meeting. So I think there will be two points here. On the president's side, the people who support the president, they will be looking for things that say actually this meeting was taking place, as the White House has said, in relative good faith. That it was a meeting, it was a sit-down, it was a discussion about issues related to the campaign but it didn't involve collusion. On the other side, it will be an attempt to go through the documents, see what is redacted, see contradictions in what, for example, Donald Trump, Jr., has said and what, for example, [Natalia Veselnitskaya] the Russian lawyer has said.
HEMMER: The Russian lawyer. Does this potentially settle it or does it take us down another rat hole?
ROGAN: It moves the process forward because it gives ammunition to -- I think ultimately it will be a net gain for the president. You suspect the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee would not have released this at the present moment if it had a negative connotation for the president. What it will do is for him, give him an argument to say look, the Mueller investigation has gone on too long, etc. as he has been doing, trying to move that into the political debate forum where he has more opportunity. But of course, behind the scenes Mueller has a lot of other stuff that is not in these files.
HEMMER: Back up just a moment. If you're part of the intel community or part of the former intel community, rather, and you are inside this closed-door hearing with Senate leaders today, what in these documents would support the investigation that the Russia matter should continue? Or is there something there?
ROGAN: I think the most operative point is the presence of that lawyer, again, in the sense that she was a pretty thinly veiled cut-out, which is an intermediary for the Russian intelligence services, for the Kremlin indeed, and not simply for the intelligence services and that we know that the Russians were trying to mess around with the U.S. election. Her presence there doesn't necessarily indict the Trump people who met with her but it does show a Russian intelligence effort to create effect in the American democratic process, and so at that baseline the Mueller investigation has merit to continue in my opinion. But of course a lot of people will disagree.
HEMMER: Bill Mears who covers the Supreme Court for us out of Washington, D.C., a producer down there, saying in the documents it shows that Trump Jr. went into that meeting in Trump Tower in 2016 with skepticism. At the same time, the AP is running a story here that Trump, Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he could not remember whether he had talked about the Russia matter with his father according to these transcripts released. Rob Goldstone apparently made the initial outreach to Trump, Jr. Does that name ring a bell for you, Tom?
ROGAN: Yes, it does. Rob Goldstone, I think, will have some issues down the road in terms of he is someone who has pinged up on the British deep state radar, let's say, before. And he effectively I think shares the same role as Veselnitskaya in the sense that he is seen as a Russian intermediary.