Trump Jr. re­veals his email chat

Writ­ings cite Rus­sia’s ‘sup­port for Mr. Trump’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - COMPILED BY DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE REPORTS

WASHINGTON — Don­ald Trump Jr. was of­fered “high level and sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion” in June 2016 as “part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump,” ac­cord­ing to emails he re­leased Tues­day.

The emails said a per­son de­scribed as a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney had “of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion” that would “in­crim­i­nate” the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, Hil­lary Clin­ton, “and be very use­ful to your fa­ther.”

“If it’s what you say I love it es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer,” Trump Jr. re­sponded.

The mes­sages were from Rob Gold­stone, a mu­sic pro­moter with busi­ness deal­ings in Rus­sia who is a friend of Trump Jr.’s. Within days, a meet­ing com­menced at Trump Tower with Trump Jr. and two other high-level cam­paign of­fi­cials — Jared Kush­ner, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son-in-law and ad­viser, and Paul Manafort, who was the cam­paign chair­man at the time.

The emails pro­vide ev­i­dence that well-con­nected Rus­sians were reach­ing out to the Trump cam­paign at least as early as June 2016, us­ing the of­fer of dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion against Clin­ton to gain ac­cess to the top lev­els of the cam­paign.

Notably, noth­ing in the emails shows any sur­prise on Trump Jr.’s part over the ref­er­ence to of­fi­cial Rus­sian “sup­port for Mr. Trump” — some­thing the Trump cam­paign and ad­min­is­tra­tion

have ve­he­mently de­nied for nearly a year.

The new ev­i­dence is likely to be scru­ti­nized closely by Robert Mueller, the spe­cial coun­sel who is head­ing the fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Rus­sia af­fair.

In a state­ment read by White House spokesman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, the pres­i­dent said his son is a “high-qual­ity per­son, and I ap­plaud his trans­parency.”

Trump Jr. said he re­leased the emails in the in­ter­est of trans­parency, but he did so only af­ter The New York Times ob­tained copies and in­formed him that the news­pa­per was about to pub­lish them.

Asked when the pres­i­dent first learned about his son’s meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer, San­ders said, “I be­lieve in the last cou­ple days, is my un­der­stand­ing.”

She re­ferred most other ques­tions about the mat­ter to Trump Jr.’s at­tor­neys.

As the emails re­leased Tues­day re­ver­ber­ated across the po­lit­i­cal world, Trump Jr. de­fended his ac­tions in an in­ter­view with Fox News, blam­ing the de­ci­sion to take the meet­ing on the “mil­lion miles per hour” pace of a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and his sus­pi­cion that the lawyer might have in­for­ma­tion about “un­der­re­ported” scan­dals in­volv­ing Clin­ton.

Trump Jr. said the meet­ing “re­ally went nowhere” and that he never told his fa­ther about it be­cause there was “noth­ing to tell.”

“In ret­ro­spect, I prob­a­bly would have done things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently,” Trump Jr. said.

The emails show that top cam­paign of­fi­cials were ea­ger to re­ceive the in­for­ma­tion, even af­ter be­ing told that it came from a for­eign gov­ern­ment.

The emails un­der­mine sev­eral of Trump Jr.’s pre­vi­ous state­ments.

On Sun­day, Trump Jr. said in a state­ment that he had “asked Jared and Paul to at­tend” the meet­ing with the at­tor­ney, Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, “but told them noth­ing of the sub­stance.”

The email chain, how­ever, shows that he sent Kush­ner and Manafort a mes­sage with the sub­ject line “Rus­sia-Clin­ton-pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial.” The mes­sage they re­ceived may have in­cluded the full email chain, al­though the emails Trump Jr. re­leased do not make that en­tirely clear.

In July

2016, sev­eral weeks af­ter the meet­ing, Trump Jr. de­nounced Demo­cratic claims that Rus­sians were help­ing the Trump cam­paign, call­ing the al­le­ga­tions “dis­gust­ing” and “phony.”

It re­mains un­clear whether the Trump cam­paign ul­ti­mately did re­ceive in­for­ma­tion from the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment that was in­tended to dam­age Clin­ton or whether any­one in­volved in the cam­paign shared in­for­ma­tion with the Rus­sians.

But a U.S. in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment re­leased in Jan­uary con­cluded with “high con­fi­dence” that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin per­son­ally au­tho­rized a cam­paign to in­ter­fere in the Amer­i­can vote with the goal of aid­ing Trump.

DEMOCRATS REACT

Democrats quickly de­nounced Trump Jr.’s ac­tions.

In a state­ment, House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the lat­est dis­clo­sures show that “the Trump cam­paign’s in­ner cir­cle met with an agent of a hos­tile for­eign power to in­flu­ence the out­come of an Amer­i­can elec­tion.”

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple face a White House rid­dled with shad­owy Rus­sian con­nec­tions and des­per­ate to hide the truth,” she wrote.

Sen. Ron Wy­den, D-Ore., a mem­ber of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said the emails make clear that “the high­est lev­els of the Trump cam­paign walked, eyes open, into a meet­ing de­signed to ad­vance the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Don­ald Trump.”

“There is no longer a ques­tion of whether this cam­paign sought to col­lude with a hos­tile for­eign power,” he added. “The ques­tion is how far the co­or­di­na­tion goes.”

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers’ ini­tial re­sponse was to seek to change the sub­ject.

“That’s the very thing we need to not get dis­tracted by,” said Sen. Thom Til­lis, R-N.C.

Sen. Or­rin Hatch, R-Utah, re­ferred to Trump Jr. as a “nice young man” and in­sisted that the ac­counts of the meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer were “overblown.”

Mem­bers of Arkansas’ con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion steered clear of the sub­ject.

Spokes­men for Sen. Tom Cot­ton and Reps. Steve Wo­mack, Rick Craw­ford, French Hill and Bruce Wester­man said the law­mak­ers had no com­ment about the emails.

House and Se­nate com­mit­tees have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and Pa­trick Creamer, a spokesman for Arkansas’ U.S. Sen. John Booz­man, said the law­maker has “full con­fi­dence” in the com­mit­tees.

CLIN­TON AIDES’ VIEW

Clin­ton’s for­mer top cam­paign aides said Tues­day’s rev­e­la­tions about Trump Jr.’s meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer proved col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Moscow dur­ing the 2016 race.

Clin­ton re­mained mum on the sub­ject, re­frain­ing from com­ment­ing on the de­vel­op­ments Tues­day. But her for­mer run­ning mate, U. S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told re­porters that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had moved “be­yond ob­struc­tion of jus­tice in terms of what’s be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. This is mov­ing into per­jury, false state­ments and even into po­ten­tially trea­son.”

Clin­ton’s for­mer cam­paign man­ager, Robby Mook, said he thought the “case is closed at this point on whether Don Jr. and Paul Manafort and Jared Kush­ner are ei­ther col­lud­ing or seek­ing to col­lude on the Rus­sians.”

While Clin­ton, the for­mer sec­re­tary of state, has taken some re­spon­si­bil­ity for her loss in the 2016 elec­tion, she has also blamed her loss on the FBI’s han­dling of her email in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence and on bias against women.

She also has said Rus­sia’s role in hack­ing into her cam­paign’s in­ter­nal emails and co­or­di­nat­ing their re­lease by Wik­iLeaks were dam­ag­ing to her cam­paign. Cam­paign of­fi­cials noted that Trump Jr.’s June meet­ing with the Rus­sian at­tor­ney came shortly be­fore the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee ac­knowl­edged that its email sys­tem had been hacked.

The for­mer Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee has said Putin pur­pose­fully in­ter­fered to hurt her cam­paign and help Trump, an ac­cu­sa­tion that Putin has de­nied.

But Clin­ton’s top ad­vis­ers said Tues­day that they were stunned by Trump Jr.’s use of email to set up the meet­ing, leav­ing a pa­per trail, and the brazen man­ner with which he met with the at­tor­ney.

“We shouldn’t be sur­prised, but we still should be shocked. Shock­ing is gen­er­ally an overused word, but that’s what this is,” said Jake Sul­li­van, a for­mer Clin­ton cam­paign ad­viser.

Brian Fal­lon, who served as a top Clin­ton cam­paign spokesman, called the ev­i­dence “damn­ing” but said it would still take spe­cial coun­sel Mueller time to carry out his in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

RUS­SIAN’S OF­FER

Gold­stone alerted Trump Jr. to the of­fer of help from the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment in a June 3, 2016, email that said he was act­ing on be­half of a client, Emin Agalarov, an as­pir­ing pop star liv­ing in Moscow.

Gold­stone runs a pub­lic re­la­tions com­pany called Oui 2 En­ter­tain­ment and met the Trumps while work­ing on the Trump-owned Miss Uni­verse pageant, which held a com­pe­ti­tion in Moscow in 2013.

Agalarov’s fa­ther, Aras Agalarov, is a wealthy oli­garch orig­i­nally from the for­mer Soviet Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan. He had met with Rus­sian of­fi­cials who of­fered to pro­vide the Trump cam­paign with dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton, Gold­stone said in the ini­tial email.

“Emin just called me and asked me to con­tact you with some­thing very in­ter­est­ing,” Gold­stone wrote. “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.”

It was un­clear what the ref­er­ence to the “crown pros­e­cu­tor” was in­tended to mean. There is no such of­fice in Rus­sia, al­though that is the term used for pros­e­cu­tors in Bri­tain, which is where Gold­stone is from.

Trump Jr. ini­tially re­sponded to the of­fer of in­for­ma­tion by sug­gest­ing a tele­phone call with Emin Agalarov, the emails show. Four days later, he agreed to a face-to-face meet­ing with Ve­sel­nit­skaya af­ter Gold­stone said “the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney” was “fly­ing over from Moscow.”

“Great,” Trump replied, not­ing that Manafort and Kush­ner would likely at­tend the meet­ing.

In a state­ment ac­com­pa­ny­ing the emails, Trump ac­knowl­edged know­ing that in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton was the in­tended rea­son for the meet­ing.

“The in­for­ma­tion they sug­gested they had about Hi­lary Clin­ton I thought was Po­lit­i­cal Op­po­si­tion Re­search,” he wrote. “I de­cided to take the meet­ing.”

He added that Ve­sel­nit­skaya “had no in­for­ma­tion to pro­vide” and shifted the con­ver­sa­tion to the Mag­nit­sky Act, a U. S. law im­pos­ing sanc­tions on Rus­sian busi­ness­men. For sev­eral years, Ve­sel­nit­skaya has been in­volved in lob­by­ing ef­forts to over­turn the law. Putin bit­terly op­poses that law.

In an in­ter­view Tues­day on NBC’s To­day show, Ve­sel­nit­skaya said it was the Trump cam­paign that was ea­ger for in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton.

“It’s quite pos­si­ble that maybe they were look­ing for such in­for­ma­tion. They wanted it so badly,” she said, speak­ing in Rus­sian from Moscow. “I never had any dam­ag­ing or sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by David S. Cloud of the Tri­bune News Ser­vice; by Chad Day, Eric Tucker, Ken Thomas, Vi­vian Salama, Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Julie Bykow­icz, Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun, Matthew Daly and Nataliya Vasi­lyeva of The Associated Press; and by Frank E. Lock­wood of the

AP/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO

Rus­sian lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya speaks with re­porters Tues­day in Moscow. Don­ald Trump Jr. has ad­mit­ted that he and oth­ers met with Ve­sel­nit­skaya at Trump Tower in June 2016.

AP/ALEX BRANDON

White House spokesman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said Tues­day that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump learned about his son’s June 2016 meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer “I be­lieve in the last cou­ple days, is my un­der­stand­ing.”

Trump Jr.

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