A “love” for hear­ing dirt

Pres­i­dent’s son tweets his ex­change rel­ish­ing a meet­ing about Hil­lary.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Chad Day and Eric Tucker

WASHINGTON» Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son re­vealed Tues­day that he had been ea­ger to hear dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton from the Rus­sian govern­ment, dis­clos­ing a se­ries of emails that marked the clear­est sign to date that Trump’s cam­paign was will­ing to con­sider elec­tion help from a long­time U.S. ad­ver­sary.

The email ex­change posted to Twit­ter by Don­ald Trump Jr. showed him con­vers­ing with a music pub­li­cist who wanted him to meet with a “Rus­sian govern­ment at­tor­ney” who sup­pos­edly had dirt on Clin­ton as “part of Rus­sia and its govern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump.” The mes­sages re­veal that Trump Jr. was told the Rus­sian govern­ment had in­for­ma­tion that could “in­crim­i­nate” Clin­ton and her deal­ings with Rus­sia.

“I love it,” Trump Jr. said in one email re­sponse.

As the emails 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.

Democrats in Con­gress voiced ou­trage and in­sisted the mes­sages showed clear col­lu­sion, with Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Demo­crat on the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, declar­ing that “all of the cam­paign’s pre­vi­ous de­nials ob­vi­ously now have to be viewed in a dif­fer­ent con­text.”

Yet Repub­li­cans — who stand the most to lose po­lit­i­cally from Trump’s Rus­sia or­deal — did not join in the con­dem­na­tion. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell said he was con­fi­dent Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tors would “get to the bot­tom of what­ever hap­pened.” And Sen. Su­san Collins, a Maine Repub­li­can on the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, cau­tioned that the emails were “only part of the pic­ture.”

Trump Jr., who was deeply in­volved in his fa­ther’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, por­trayed his de­ci­sion to re­lease the emails as an ef­fort “to be to­tally trans­par­ent.” In fact, they al­ready had been ob­tained by The New York Times.

Hours af­ter the son posted the emails, the fa­ther rose to his de­fense.

“My son is a high-qual­ity per­son, and I ap­plaud his trans­parency,” the pres­i­dent said in a state­ment read to re­porters by White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders. Although San­ders de­clined to an­swer ques­tions about the emails, she stood by the White House’s long­stand­ing in­sis­tence that no one in Trump’s cam­paign col­luded to in­flu­ence the elec­tion.

The mes­sages were the lat­est dis­clo­sure to roil the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion with Trump’s cam­paign. U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have said the Rus­sian govern­ment med­dled in the elec­tion through hack­ing to aid Trump.

As con­gres­sional com­mit­tees and Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller in­ves­ti­gate, the emails al­most cer­tainly will be re­viewed for any signs of co­or­di­na­tion with the Krem­lin, which the White House and Trump Jr. have re­peat­edly said did not take place. A spokesman for Mueller, the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor, de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In the emails — dated early June 2016, soon af­ter Trump se­cured the GOP nom­i­na­tion — music pub­li­cist Rob Gold­stone wrote to Trump Jr. to con­nect him to Rus­sian at­tor­ney Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya. Gold­stone wrote that the in­for­ma­tion “would be very use­ful to your fa­ther.”

“If it’s what you say I love it es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer,” Trump Jr. replied in one of the emails. Days later, Ve­sel­nit­skaya met with Trump Jr. on June 9 at Trump Tower in New York. Ve­sel­nit­skaya has de­nied ever work­ing for the Rus­sian govern­ment.

The emails show Gold­stone telling Trump that singer Emin Agalarov and his fa­ther, Moscow-based devel­oper Aras Agalarov, had “helped along” the Rus­sian govern­ment’s sup­port for Trump. The elder Agalarov was in­volved with Trump in host­ing the 2013 Miss Uni­verse pageant in Moscow. The two men once also had pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions about build­ing a Trump Tower in Moscow, but they fell through. Trump also ap­peared in a music video with the younger Agalarov.

In his email, Gold­stone said the “Crown prose­cu­tor of Rus­sia” of­fered to pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion on Clin­ton to the Trump cam­paign in a meet­ing with Aras Agalarov. There is no such royal ti­tle in the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, but Gold­stone — who is Bri­tish — may have been re­fer­ring to the ti­tle given to state pros­e­cu­tors in the United King­dom.

In Rus­sia, the top jus­tice of­fi­cial is Prose­cu­tor Gen­eral Yury Chaika, the equiv­a­lent of the at­tor­ney gen­eral in the United States. Chaika is long­time con­fi­dant of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and was ap­pointed di­rectly by him.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the Agalarovs didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on Tues­day. At­tempts to reach Chaika at his of­fice were un­suc­cess­ful.

Although the emails weren’t posted in full un­til Tues­day, word of their ex­is­tence had emerged in the days prior. In an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day, Gold­stone de­scribed the in­for­ma­tion as pur­ported ev­i­dence of il­le­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. It’s un­clear what proof, if any, Ve­sel­nit­skaya pro­vided dur­ing the meet­ing.

“If it’s what you say I love it es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”

Don­ald Trump Jr., June 3, 2016

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