On Monday's edition of Fox News Channel's 'The Story' with Martha McCallum, George Washington University Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley argued that Donald Trump Jr.'s alleged meeting with a Russian lawyer was not smart optics, but is also not at all criminal. The New York Times reported that Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had a 20 minute meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GWU: It is like we have this giant Rorschach test and people see whatever they want to.
The criminal code has defined elements to it. You just don’t find these ambiguous crimes. Some people have said this could be treason. For the love of God, treason is defined in the Constitution. This is not treason. Other people have said this could be a Logan Act violation. Well, Logan Act has been used once in 200 years and is facially unconstitutional. One said, well, if you take things of tangible value under the campaign laws and treat information like that, then maybe you have a campaign contribution violation. Well, yeah, but we haven’t seen that done. You could also treat it like a panda and say it’s an endangered species violation, but courts haven’t done that. So, I think that people need to take a breath...
What I've said to a lot of my friends who do legal analysis is, is this really the world you want to live in, where we broaden the definition of crimes so far that most any conversation could be a criminal act?
That’s a very dangerous world to live in, but more importantly, if information is now a thing of tangible value under federal campaign laws, then the Clinton campaign could be charged with the same type of offense, and a wide variety of other campaigns could be charged.
I mean, there’s a point at which you have to show some element of maturity and stand back and tell people — look, this is worthy we have an investigation. But you shouldn’t suggest that this is a clear evidence of a criminal act...
Now, what is not routine is to have high-ranking people like this meet with someone without knowing the nature of the meeting. That was not a smart move to make, but it doesn’t make it a crime. And so, people have got to be very careful. If this is a crime, then a wide array of contacts that routinely occur between politicians and foreign nationals would also be a crime, and then you raise serious free speech and association concerns under the Constitution.