Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday released emails he exchanged with an acquaintance who helped set up a Trump Tower meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who promised to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
The emails, which were released on Twitter, show that Trump Jr. was told that the information came from the Russian government. He was also informed by his acquaintance, a music publicist named Rob Goldstone, that the Russian government supported the Trump campaign.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin,” wrote Goldstone, referring to his client Emin Agalarov, a musician popular in Russia.
Aras Agalarov, Emin’s father, is a Russian billionaire close to Vladimir Putin. He partnered with the elder Trump on Miss Universe 2013, which was held in Moscow.
The email exchange shows that Trump Jr. was receptive to receiving damaging information about Clinton. It also shows that he was told that the information was coming from people affiliated with the Russian government.
“Emin asked that I schedule the meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday,” Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. on June 7.
That attorney is Natalia Veselnitskaya. As The New York Times reported over the weekend, Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr., his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016.
Trump Jr. initially said that Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss U.S. adoptions of Russian children. Russian president Vladimir Putin enacted a ban against the adoptions after the 2012 passage of the Magnitsky Act, a law that allows for sanctions against Russians accused of human rights abuses.
Veselnitskaya is a lawyer for a Russian businessman who wants to see the Magnitsky Act curtailed. She has worked with a former Soviet spy named Rinat Akhmetshin on the anti-Magnitsky effort.
Veselnitskaya did not provide any information about Clinton, both she and Trump Jr. have said publicly.
But Trump critics have asserted that the meeting is evidence of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. The possibility of campaign collusion is currently being investigated by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and several congressional panels.
“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016,” Trump Jr. wrote in a statement on Twitter.
The email chain begins on June 3, 2016, the week before the meeting was held in Trump Tower.
“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Goldstone wrote in the first salvo of the email thread.
“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 helpful to your father.”
There is no “Crown prosecutor of Russia,” suggesting that Goldstone was joking about Emin Agalarov.
Goldstone then asked Trump what would be the best way to handle the information. He asked if Trump would prefer to speak to Agalarov. He then said he could send the information director to the elder Trump through his secretary.
“But it is ultra sensitive and I wanted to send to you first,” wrote Goldstone.
Trump Jr. responded by saying that he was on the road and preferred to speak to Emin Agalarov first. But he made it clear that he was interested in the information about Clinton.
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” he wrote, suggesting that he thought it would be a good idea to release damaging information about Clinton later in the campaign season.
The pair exchanged several other emails before pushing the meeting back to June 9.
On June 8, Trump emailed Kushner and Manafort giving them a heads up that the meeting had been rescheduled.
That email’s subject line reads: “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.”
Notably, it appears that Trump Jr. forwarded Kushner and Manafort the entire email thread he had with Goldstone.
It is still unclear how The Times learned of the email exchanges between Trump Jr. and Goldstone. The newspapers’ report on the email exchanges was sourced to “three people” familiar with the exchanges.
In his statement Tuesday, Trump Jr. said that Veselnitskaya “was not a government official.”
And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act.”
“To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue.”
“The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research. 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,” he added.