Politics

Howard Dean Slams Meeting With Russian Lawyer: ‘This Is a Criminal Enterprise Running This Country’

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said Monday on MSNBC that Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign proved that the Trump administration is a "criminal enterprise."

Dean said that President Donald Trump cannot be trusted to tell the truth and implied that there was evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia in a clip posted at Breitbart. Dean then pivoted to the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who he claimed was close to Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

"Now we see overnight that there was a meeting between Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a very—somebody close, very close to the FSB and Putin," Dean said, referring to the New York Times report. "So drip, drip, drip, drip. You know, this is a criminal enterprise running this country now."

The meeting did not entail any direct communication with the Kremlin, however, and Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya falsely claimed to have information on Hillary Clinton. Media reports have tied Veselnitskaya to the Russian government through her clients as well as her husband, a former regional deputy transportation minister.

Dean also said that he expected Trump to lie about the matter. In Dean's view, this makes special counsel Robert Mueller "the real savior for democracy" through his investigation.

"I think at this point, Trump is Trump. He's going to lie," Dean said. "He's going to do all these things he does, and the real savior for democracy is going to be Robert Mueller. He's going to find out what the truth is."

Dean added that the United States faces a "stalemate," but that it could survive because of its "checks and balances all over the map."

"From a political point of view, I think the country is at a stalemate," Dean said. "But I do think this is a very strong country. We have checks and balances all over the map, both judicial and economic, and I think we're going to get to the bottom of this."

Dean also said that Trump has forfeited "leadership of the free world" to Germany and France. He cited the G-20 meeting last week in which the United States did not sign a climate agreement.

"I think [the G-20 summit] was a disaster because what [Trump] did was hand over the leadership of the free world to [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and [French President] Emmanuel Macron," Dean said. "We are no longer the leader of the free world. To have a statement at the end of the thing signed by 19 members and excepting the United States, well, that's ballgame for us."

Dean argued that even Trump's lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin did not do the United States any good.

"Trump keeps talking about [improved Russian relations], but nothing ever happens," Dean said. "Putin is still in the Ukraine murdering people. He's murdering journalists left and right."