This past week, The New York Times released two bombshell reports revealing that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-aligned layer to acquire supposedly damning information on Clinton obtained illegally by the Russian government. Donald Jr. cycled through different explanations of the events at first, at one point arguing that he did not in fact know that there was a government connection between Natalia Veselnitskaya – the lawyer involved in the meeting – and Putin’s autocratic government.
Ahead of the Times disclosing the emails, however, Donald Jr. has preemptively released his email correspondence leading up to the encounter. To say that the emails are incriminating would be a gross understatement.
Rob Goldstone – a music promoter and close friend of Trump who also has close ties to Russian oligarchs – connected Donald Jr. with Veselnitskaya, referring to her as “Russian government attorney” in one email in the exchange.
There goes the ignorance defense.
Goldstone also discussed the nature of the information on offer, stating:
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”
In his response, Donald Jr. wrote “If it’s what you say, I love it.”
There is is, the smoking gun.
Legal experts have been dissecting the revelations, and there is a chorus of those that argue that Donald Jr.’s actions constitute a federal offense. By seeking campaign assistance from a foreign national (one tied to a foreign government no less), he likely broke federal campaign finance law.
After admitting that he sought damaging information on Clinton, Donald Jr.’s defense has revolved around the fact that the meeting didn’t yield useful information. It “quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information,” Trump said in a statement.
This, of course, changes nothing about his intention, which may be all prosecutors need to conclude that a crime was committed.
Furthermore, the meeting was attended by then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and current White House advisor Jared Kushner. Donald Jr.’s emails leading up to the meeting with Veselnitskaya appear to have been forwarded to these two individuals, meaning that both Manafort and Kushner were aware that they were meeting with a Kremlin-affiliated party supposedly willing to pass off stolen information damaging to their boss’ political opponent.
If the Times was able to uncover this story, what could Special Counsel Mueller’s group of seasoned investigators know? Expect more bombshells to come.