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From Russia with ‘love it’: Donald Trump Jr posts emails offering material on Clinton

Donald Trump Jr has been forced to release damning emails that reveal he eagerly embraced what he was told was a Russian government attempt to damage Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.

12 July 2017, 8:42am
Donald Trump Jr
Donald Trump Jr
The stunning disclosure raised questions over whether campaign laws were broken and why senior Trump associates failed to report a hostile act by a foreign power.

Trump Jr also admitted on Tuesday night that he could have handled the situation better but he had not told his father about meeting a Russian lawyer because “it was a nothing”.

The emails show music promoter Rob Goldstone telling the future US president’s son that “the crown prosecutor of Russia” had 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”.

British-born Goldstone adds in the exchange of 3 June 2016: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”

Seventeen minutes later, Trump Jr welcomes this with the reply: “If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.”

In a later email, Goldstone describes the Russian lawyer they are due to meet, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as a “Russian government attorney”.

Trump Jr agrees, adding that he would probably be accompanied by “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka and now a senior White House adviser.

The formatting of the emails suggests that Trump Jr forwarded the whole chain to Manafort and Kushner before the meeting the three attended with Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York on 9 June.

On Sunday, Trump Jr had said he had asked Manafort and Kushner to attend but not told them what the meeting was about. An associate of Manafort said on Tuesday that the former campaign chairman claims not to have read to the bottom of the chain of emails forwarded to him and Kushner by Trump Jr about the meeting. Jamie Gorelick, an attorney for Jared Kushner, did not respond to questions about whether Kushner read the emails and why he attended the meeting.

Critics seized on the new disclosures to question why three of Trump’s closest advisers were willing to accept such a meeting instead of alerting authorities to interference by a foreign adversary.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating Russian meddling in the election, thought to include stealing Democratic National Committee emails and the use of social-media bots to spread fake news about Clinton.

Trump Jr has offered shifting explanations for the meeting in recent days. In an interview broadcast on conservative Fox News on Tuesday night, he again sought to justify his motives but conceded that he could have handled the situation better.

“In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” he told interviewer Sean Hannity. “Again this is before the Russia mania, this is before they were building this up in the press.

Trump Jr denied that he told his father about the meeting. “It was just a nothing,” he added. “There was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.”

Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine, a senator from Virginia and member of the foreign relations committee, told MSNBC: “These emails are explosive. This should have set off alarm bells and red lights, and yet what it seemed to do is activate their salivatory glands. This is just wheelbarrows of new evidence for the special counsel and the Senate intelligence committee.”

Trump Jr released the email chain on Tuesday apparently to pre-empt its publication by the New York Times, which, this weekend, first broke the news of his meeting with Veselnitskaya in June last year. Veselnitskaya had promised compromising information about Clinton but apparently failed to deliver.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Trump Jr explained: “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. To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue.”

There is no such position as crown prosecutor of Russia, but the most likely candidate would be the long-serving prosecutor general, and a long-standing member of Vladimir Putin’s elite, Yuri Chaika.