Critics of President Donald Trump say his son’s emails about meeting a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton is a “smoking gun.”But defenders of the president and Donald Trump Jr. said the meeting, which took place last year as the race between Trump and Clinton was gearing up, amounted to “nothing” and was being overblown by the media.Among those whose job is to decide which side is right is the Federal Election Commission. The FEC is set to again consider in an open meeting July 13 what can be done to protect U.S. elections from interference by Russia and other foreign powers. The FEC is not expected, however, to directly address the newly revealed Trump meeting or other specific cases. The commission already had more than a dozen pending cases about foreign influence in last year’s elections when the news broke about Donald Trump Jr.’s meting with the Russian, leading inevitably to even more new enforcement complaints. The commission, however is as deeply divided along partisan lines as is the rest of America and has yet to signal what, if anything, it will do about these matters.
The commissioners agreed earlier this year to expedite handling of enforcement cases dealing with alleged foreign influence, but individual cases are handled in strict secrecy until each case is closed. No new foreign influence cases have been revealed by the FEC so far this year.
As now has been widely reported, Donald Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, which also included the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump Jr. received an email from an associate who said the meeting would yield “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” The proposed meeting was described as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for the Trump presidential campaign.