WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday made public his June 2016 email exchange with a contact promising dirt gathered by the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton — the prospect of which elicited the Trump Jr. response: “I love it.”
President Donald Trump’s eldest son was corresponding with Rob Goldstone, a publicist who ultimately arranged for a meeting later that month between Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Goldstone writes.
“If it’s what you say, I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replies.
Trump Jr. posted a statement and the email chain to his Twitter account Tuesday as The New York Times was preparing to publish the correspondence.
Meanwhile, the president made his first public comment on Trump Jr.’s meeting — revealed as investigations continue into Kremlin-led attempts to influence the election and whether Trump’s inner circle played any role.
“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” Trump said in a succinct statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sanders directed further questions to Trump Jr.’s outside counsel, adding only that the president was “frustrated” with the attention the issue was receiving when there is work to be done.
She stood by her previous statement that there has been no collusion between Trump representatives and Russian officials.
Trump Jr. and Sanders have stressed Veselnitskaya did not deliver and no follow-up conversations were held.
“In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr. told Fox News’ “Hannity” on Tuesday night. “Again, this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building this up in the press.”
Goldstone in the emails called Veselnitskaya a “Russian government attorney,” but she told NBC News on Tuesday that she had no ties to the Kremlin and no damaging information on Clinton.
“They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted,” she said of the Trump campaign.
Goldstone represented a Russian pop star whose real estate developer father has ties to Trump and who backed the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow with Trump.
Trump Jr.’s apparent readiness to consider information from the Russian government sparked condemnation from Democrats on Capitol Hill and concern from some Republicans.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who had earlier said the meeting was part of a “nothing burger,” tweeted that he supports Trump but Trump Jr.’s conduct was a “big no-no.”
Zeldin told CNN, “We do not meet with foreign hostile governments to get information to damage our political opponents. It’s just not something that we do.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted: “This is black and white: Trump officials at the highest levels knew Russia was working to aid Donald Trump & welcomed Russia’s interference.”
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) told Newsday that he believes the episode should be thoroughly investigated, including by the House Intelligence Committee, but it appears thus far to be a “one-off, inadvertent mistake” by Trump Jr.