In a Monday morning appearance on Fox News, Donald Trump, Jr., insisted that the president’s 2016 campaign team has been unfairly targeted by a “Stalinist” special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III — and that crimes committed before the election shouldn’t count as “actual crimes.”
“They’re not investigating actual crimes anymore… There are no actual crimes,” the president’s son said. “There’s only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we’d ever get into this crazy world. And that’s what it is. ”
Trump Jr. then compared the Mueller investigation to the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. “It’s that old Stalinist tactic: Show me the men, I’ll show you the crime,” he said.
.@DonaldJTrumpJr on MUELLER: "There are no actual crimes. There's only things that people did in past lives, in 2006 before we even thought we'd ever get into this crazy world… it's that old Stalinist tactic." pic.twitter.com/a0gWJaBaaa
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 25, 2019
It was unclear what crimes Trump Jr. might have been alluding to: Mueller’s office has issued numerous indictments and filings alleging assorted crimes committed by those leading President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Just a few days ago, Mueller’s latest filing detailed how former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — who is now facing decades in prison for a range of crimes related to his work in the post-Soviet space, both before and after the 2016 election — has continued lying to investigators well after the election closed in 2016.
It’s also unclear why Trump Jr. claimed that Mueller’s office was focusing on crimes committed in 2006. Manafort began some of his criminal enterprises in 2006, but, as Mueller’s office has detailed, he continued those crimes through the election, and even after Trump took office.
In any case, Manafort's admitted criminal conduct did *start* as far back as 2006 but it also continued through 2018. pic.twitter.com/GQ0lJQQOib
— Andrew Prokop (@awprokop) February 25, 2019
Of course, Manafort is not the only member of the Trump campaign who pleaded guilty or was convicted of crimes committed during and after the 2016 campaign. Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates has already pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI, as has former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one of Trump’s closest allies through the 2016 campaign, is also currently awaiting a sentencing after lying to the FBI. All of these lies came after the 2016 election.
And just this month, Mueller indicted Trump adviser Roger Stone for lying to Congress and for witness-tampering — all of which took place after Trump became president.
Then there are the various other investigations circling the president and his family himself, some of which are outside of the Mueller investigation. Federal investigators are examining potential financial malfeasance related to the president’s 2017 inauguration, which involved suspicious donations linked to Russian individuals. Ongoing investigations in New York have also centered on Trump’s years of alleged tax-dodging, and the Trump Foundation was recently forced to dissolve following a “shocking pattern of illegality,” according to New York’s then-Attorney General Barbara Underwood. Even pro-Trump super PACs are being investigated for their close ties to the Trump campaign.
On Monday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a new report detailing the “compelling evidence” that Trump himself “may have personally committed up to eight criminal campaign finance and related offenses while running for president and during his first year in office.” These acts all pertain to Trump directing “hush money” payments before the election to two women who allegedly slept with Trump, with crimes ranging from issuing false statements to leading a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
All of these crimes, alleged and otherwise, took place well after Trump Jr.’s apparently arbitrary defense that Mueller’s investigators have focused only on crimes committed before 2006. Mueller’s office has alleged any number of crimes well into — and after — the 2016 election, as have any number of other federal and state-level investigators. Trump Jr. may view the Mueller investigation as a “Stalinist” tactic — but the numerous guilty pleas, and the sentences to come, indicate otherwise.