Trump Jr's leaked emails escalate Russian collusion scandal
US President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., released a four page email chain via Twitter early Tuesday, after learning The New York Times had obtained a copy of the explosive communications.
According to the documents, Trump Jr. expressed interest in meeting with a “Russian government attorney” who was said to possess “very high level and sensitive information” relating to then presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
The email chain – led by the subject line, “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential” – contains a conversation between the president’s son and a publicist he had met during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Rob Goldstone.
In one particular exchange, Goldstone, who represents the son of a businessman linked to the Kremlin, asserts the information is “part of Russia and its government’s support of Mr. Trump.”
Donald Trump Jr. replies: “If it’s what you say I love it.”
Multiple agencies within the US intelligence community have previously stated Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a coordinated effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election; however, more recent investigations into allegations of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives have raised tensions across Washington.
President Donald Trump and his allies have long maintained the probe into alleged cooperation is little more than a “witch hunt.” However, his son’s social media disclosures – catalogued below – serve as perhaps the most concrete evidence yet of Trump campaign agents’ willingness to collude with a foreign entity.
After months of flatly denying any campaign interaction with Kremlin associates, Trump administration representatives will now have to modify longstanding talking points.
Donald Trump Jr. moved to release the emails only after days of contentious back-and-forths with The New York Times, which first reported on a meeting between the president’s son, the president’s son-in-law, the president’s former campaign manager, and a Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, on Saturday.
Trump Jr. initially responded by stating the encounter comprised only a short discussion of Russian adoption policy. Subsequent reporting by the Times led Trump Jr. to issue a second statement – acknowledging the meeting also involved some conversation regarding “political opposition research.”
Tuesday morning, the president’s son released a third statement – this time attached to electronic communications with Goldstone – after journalists from the Times informed Trump Jr. they had obtained and intended to publish a leaked copy of the emails.
At an off-camera White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement from president reading: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”
Mrs. Sanders then stated all questions related to the email disclosures would have to be directed to the White House outside counsel.
This story will be updated as more details emerge.