In an effort to be "totally transparent," Donald Trump Jr. has released the entire email chain between himself and Rob Goldstone concerning a 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney that has caused headaches and controversy for the Trump administration.
Trump Jr. released the emails on his personal Twitter account along with a paragraph-long statement defending his actions and his decision to take the meeting, which he insists was proper and completely innocuous.
While the emails do not shed light on what occurred at the meeting, they do confirm reporting from the New York Times that Trump Jr. was told that he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton at the meeting, and that Goldstone explicitly claimed that this information was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump[.]"
The controversy concerning the meeting stems from media allegations that Trump Jr. received information from the Russian government that was politically damaging to then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Given the intense scrutiny that has surrounded every interaction between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the course of the 2016 campaign, this explosive allegation has raised the stakes surrounding the investigation into possible collusion.
While President Donald Trump has stated for months that he believes that the Russians were "probably" behind the hacking of former Clinton aide John Podesta's emails, he has repeatedly denied that his campaign colluded with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the United States' election.
The principal participants in the meeting — including Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — have denied that any useful information was exchanged at all. In an interview Tuesday, Veselnitskaya denied having any connection to the Kremlin or possessing any information that was damaging about the Clintons at all.
Trump Jr., for his part, has called the meeting "inane" and a waste of time, and that Veselnitskaya used the meeting to ask him about adoption policy. Jared Kushner and then-campaign chief Paul Manafort were also present at the meeting, as confirmed by Trump's legal team last week.
In a statement released by Kushner attorney Jamie Gorelick, Kushner described his participation in the meeting as "brief" but did not describe the meeting in detail, other than to say that he is "eager to cooperate and share what he knows."
Thus, while no one present at the meeting has suggested that damaging information was passed from the Russian government to the Trump campaign as a result of the meeting, it is clear from the emails released Tuesday that Trump Jr. thought he was taking a meeting with someone who would provide him with damaging information about Clinton, and that this information was part of the Russian government's efforts to help his father's campaign.
The fourth page of the email screenshots released by Trump Jr. this morning shows the earliest email in sequence.
In the email, Goldstone states that "Emin [Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who is known to the Trumps through their work on the Miss Universe pageant] just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. 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. 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." [emphasis added]
In response, Trump Jr. stated, "Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer." [emphasis added]
The remainder of the email chain, as tweeted by Trump Jr., consists of a discussion between Trump Jr. and Goldstone setting up the logistics of the meeting. The meeting apparently occurred on June 9, 2016, which was before reports concerning Russian hacking of DNC emails became widely known to the public.
The tweet also contained a picture of a typed statement from Trump Jr. In the statement, Trump Jr. states:
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. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, 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. As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was "the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it."
Both the emails and Trump Jr.'s statements are consistent with the New York Times' reporting of all the parties' claims about this incident.