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However low your esteem for Donald Trump’s eldest son Don Jr., it’s about to fall even lower after reading The New York Times’ latest bombshell report about his dealings with Russia. The Times reported on Monday night that, during the 2016 campaign, Trump Jr. was told in an email that a meeting with a Russian lawyer would contain damaging information on Hillary Clinton that was obtained through Russian government efforts to help his father beat Clinton.
Trump Jr., along with Paul Manafort, who was then Trump’s campaign chairman, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, went to the meeting anyway.
Although the Times story contains a pro-forma denial from deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders—who said “the president’s campaign did not collude in any way. Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election. No one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election”—the White House isn’t denying that Don Jr. went into the meeting with the understanding that the Kremlin-linked lawyer would come bearing intel intended to help his father’s bid for the presidency.
A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment to the Times, and representatives for Kushner had nothing new to say about the latest story. Alan Futerfas, Trump Jr.’s attorney and actual former Mob lawyer, called the reporting “much ado about nothing,” but failed to address the crucial issue of whether Trump Jr. knew that the meeting was connected to official Russian interference in the election.
For his part, the prodigal son tweeted:
Trump Jr.’s dad, who has made no public defense of his son, spent the morning tweeting wildly about the Democrats and the Olympics.
UPDATE, July 11, 2017, 12:46 PM: Shortly before the Times published another story about the emails, Trump Jr. tweeted out the text of what he says is the entire email chain setting up the meeting. The emails appear to confirm the newspaper’s reporting that Trump Jr. knowingly met with a person who claimed to have information on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
The Trump Organization executive replied in the July 2016 email chain: “If it’s what you say, I love it.” You can read the full chain here.