Tags: Russia | michael mcfaul | rookie mistake | donald trump jr. | meeting | russian | lawyer

McFaul: 'Rookie Mistake' No Reason for Don Jr.'s Russian Meeting

NBC's "Today"

By    |   Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 12:43 PM

Donald Trump Jr. can't make any excuses for "rookie mistakes" following his meeting with a Russian attorney he thought had information against his father's Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Thursday.

"You're running a presidential campaign, so there is no excuse for rookie mistakes," McFaul told NBC's "Today" show. "Second, he brought Paul Manafort to the meeting. He has years and decades of experience in that part of the world. He should have known."

McFaul, who served as ambassador from 2012-2014, worked before that as the architect of President Barack Obama's "Russia reset" policy. He also worked on the Obama campaign against Sen. John McCain in 2008, and told "Today" anchor Matt Lauer that he would have considered an offer of help from Russia suspicious.

"I would have considered that highly unethical," he said. "I would have been in touch with the FBI to make sure they know who these people are."

Ironically, last summer, while the attorney, Nataliya Veselnitskaya obtained a meeting with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, she also was seen around Washington representing a client fighting a sanctioning bill against Russia. At one point, reports The Daily Mail, she secured a seat in the front row at a Senate hearing, where she sat behind then-ambassador McFaul.

He was not asked about the incident Thursday, and did not bring it up.

He did, however, tell Lauer and co-anchor Savannah Guthrie that the Trump campaign "should have somebody like me" working to vet such foreign contacts as the one Trump Jr. received.

"We had no foreign contacts," said McFaul. "They should have had someone to look into this thing and say, hey maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe this is not what you think it is."

It's also possible that Russia was trying to dangle information in front of the Trump campaign to see if it would bite.

"Let's just be clear, they thought they were going to get something major," said McFaul. "If this was just a courtesy call, why did he bring two of the most senior people in the campaign?"

Further, it's not really known what was discussed at the meeting, held last summer at Trump Tower, said McFaul.

"We've heard just one person's interpretation." the former ambassador said. "We don't actually know what they discussed. Hopefully, they get to the bottom of that one day."

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Donald Trump Jr. can't make any excuses for "rookie mistakes" following his meeting with a Russian attorney he thought had information against his father's Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Thursday.
michael mcfaul, rookie mistake, donald trump jr., meeting, russian, lawyer
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2017-43-13
Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 12:43 PM
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