Donald Trump Jr releases emails, showing lead up to meeting with 'Russian government lawyer'
Donald Trump Jr agreed to take a meeting during the 2016 presidential campaign with a woman he was told was a "Russian government lawyer" who could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of "Russia and its government's support" for his father's presidential campaign, according to emails tweeted by the president's son.
US President Donald Trump's eldest son tweeted the entire exchange that led to the controversial meeting early on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) amid a swirl of controversy about the June 2016 encounter.
The email exchange showed clearly that Trump Jr understood he was taking the meeting as a way of channelling information directly from the government of a nation hostile to the United States to his father's campaign. It is the most concrete public evidence to date suggesting that top Trump campaign aides were eager for Russia's assistance in the campaign.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a campaign to assist Trump, including the release of hacked emails stolen from Democratic officials.
* Russian lawyer describes being 'summoned' to Trump Tower
* Trump Jr's meeting with Russian lawyer draws scrutiny
* Donald Trump Jr's incriminating statement to NYT
* US President's son, advisers met with Russian lawyer
* Trump's son 'was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton'
Here's my statement and the full email chain pic.twitter.com/x050r5n5LQ— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
Here is page 4 (which did not post due to space constraints). pic.twitter.com/z1Xi4nr2gq— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
Congress and a special prosecutor are investigating Russian interference with the presidential election and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign - a charge President Trump has repeatedly denied.
The email came from a music publicist who represented Emin Agalarov, whose father Aras is a major real estate developer close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting," publicist Rob Goldstone emailed Trump Jr in June 2016. "The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."
"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government support for Mr Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin," Goldstone wrote.
Trump Jr's response made his enthusiasm clear: "If it's what you say, I love it especially later in the summer," he wrote.
Goldstone offered to send the information directly to Trump, who had then largely sealed the Republican nomination for president, but said since the information was "ultra sensitive" he wanted to reach out to Trump Jr first instead.
A spokesman for the president's lawyer has said Trump Sr was not aware of the meeting and did not attend.
The emails show that Trump Jr arranged to meet with the woman along with the campaign's most important advisers.
"It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss), my brother in law and me," Trump Jr wrote.
Trump Jr appeared to have forwarded the entire exchange to Manafort as well as Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law who is now a top adviser in the West Wing.
In a statement accompanying his tweet, Trump Jr said he was releasing the entire chain "in order to be totally transparent."
"The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research," Trump Jr said in the statement. "I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn't work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet."
"I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official," he said.
Natalia Veselnitskaya told NBC News on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that she does not work with the Russian government. A Kremlin spokesman has also denied knowing who she is.
"To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue," Trump Jr said.
- The Washington Post