The New York Times reports that Donald Trump Jr. met with George Nader, an emissary for the princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli social media specialist, 3 months before President Trump’s 2016 election. Supposedly, the main purpose of the meeting was to develop relationships among the parties, but there was also discussion of the potential for social media manipulation on behalf of the Trump campaign. Nader and Zamel met with the Trump team again after he was elected. These meetings are being investigated by the FBI.
The question which may spring to one’s mind is whether this meeting could constitute further conspiracy to defraud the United States. This question has been analyzed thoroughly by Professor Bowman in the context of the Russian Lawyer Meeting. The crime is composed of two basic elements: 1) an agreement to 2) defraud the United States. The United States can be defrauded of its right to a fair and honest election, and we will assume for the sake of this post that the manipulation of social media constitutes such a fraudulent taking (though that may in fact be a gray area). So what is left to be examined is whether the meeting between Trump Jr., Nader, and Zamel constitutes an agreement.
Though we have no direct evidence of an agreement, a conspiracy may be established, at least in the context of antitrust, by parallel behavior accompanied by certain “plus factors” (those which add to the circumstantial possibility of agreement). What we know is that Nader paid Zamel $2 million after President Trump was elected, the reason for which is unclear. We also know that Trump recently abandoned the Iran Nuclear Deal, a position Nader was known for advocating. This is probably not enough to establish a conspiracy, but perhaps further investigation will reveal more. There is also some evidence of ties between Nader and Zamel and Russia. Though it is very unclear as of yet, we may be dealing a conspiracy much larger than we first imagined.
Ron Sachs/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press