Donald Trump Jr. was told in an email before his meeting with a Russian lawyer — whom he believed had damaging info on Hillary Clinton — that the material was part of the Kremlin’s effort to aid his father’s campaign, a report says.
At least three people with knowledge of the correspondence told the New York Times that the message was sent by publicist Rob Goldstone as he helped arrange the June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Trump Jr. admitted Sunday that he was interested in getting the potentially damaging information on Clinton, but gave no indication that he was aware of the Kremlin’s connection to the election.
The email ultimately indicates that the info came straight from the Russians, the Times reported.
“It’s a very serious development,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC. “It all warrants thorough investigation. Everyone who was in that meeting ought to come before our committee.”
The email does not elaborate, though, on any other efforts by Moscow officials to help aid the Trump campaign.
There is reportedly no evidence suggesting that the info pertaining to Clinton had anything to do with Russia’s computer hacking of the DNC.
Goldstone’s message is expected to be useful to the Justice Department, seeing how they’re looking into whether any of President Trump’s associates or aides worked with the Russians to help win him the election.
But Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, insists his client did nothing wrong — and that the email is simply “much ado about nothing.”
“During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he told the Times on Monday.
“Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew,” Futerfas said. “Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”
While it is unclear whether Goldstone knew where the damaging material about Clinton came from, one source who was briefed on the emails told the Times it appeared that he had passed along info that he had received from others.
Trump Jr. has claimed on Twitter that he was simply hearing out potentially damaging info about a political opponent when he brokered the sit-down with Veselnitskaya.
President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was also at the meeting, along with campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Trump Jr. lawyered up on Monday in the wake of the controversy. Both Veselnitskaya and the Kremlin have claimed that she was in no way acting for the Russian government.