In the days following the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who was looking to pass along political dirt on Hillary Clinton, the president’s eldest son’s story has continued to evolve for why he would take such a meeting. “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand,” Trump Jr. said in a statement Saturday. The following day, however, Trump Jr. admitted he knew the lawyer was pushing damaging info on Clinton before agreeing to the meeting, which included Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort. On Monday, the Times followed up its reporting, revealing Trump Jr. not only knew the meeting was to discuss potentially damaging Clinton info, but that he was informed via email by the go-between who arranged the meeting that the info was “part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”
From the Times:
The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.
Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign. 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 is unclear whether Mr. Goldstone had direct knowledge of the origin of the damaging material. One person who was briefed on the emails said it appeared that he was passing along information that had been given to him by others.
The Goldstone email certainly raises the stakes for the Trump White House. The June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, came a month before WikiLeaks dropped its first batch of hacked DNC emails that upended the race. The existence of the email indicates that Trump Jr. was willing to accept information on Clinton he knew to be sourced to the Russian government. The email would also mean that as of June 2016 Trump Jr. was aware, even if unconfirmed, that the Russian government was thought to be interested in assisting his father’s presidential bid. The question then becomes: what did the president know?