Critics of President Donald Trump and his administration spread an anonymously sourced New York Times report Monday that claimed Donald Trump Jr. was told the damaging information he was seeking on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was from the Russian government.
MSNBC host Chris L. Hayes responded to the story, "This is smoking gun evidence of collusion, right?"
"Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton," the New York Times report read, "Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email."
The email was from publicist Rob Goldstone, according to the report, and made it clear that the information would be from an effort from the Russian government to aid Trump's campaign to defeat Clinton.
However, the New York Times admits in its report that the email does not refer to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, which many believe was orchestrated by covert Russian government agents.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails," it read.
In response to the first New York Times report published Saturday, Trump Jr. released a statement saying that they had spoken about adoption during the meeting. Then later, he admitted in a longer statement that he had gone to the meeting in hopes of receiving damaging information about Clinton.
"I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign," Trump Jr. said. "I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.
"We had a meeting in June 2016," he continued. "After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered.
"It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information," Trump Jr. said. "She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting."
Trump Jr. said Monday that he would be willing to be questioned about the matter by the Senate Intelligence Committee after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) called for the committee to interview him.