The news regarding Donald Trump Jr.'s emails doesn't seem to get any less problematic as the days go by — despite his best efforts.
Trump Jr.'s current PR plan seems to be releasing the emails in their entirety with the assumption that openness and honesty can put the story to bed, and that might be true if the emails were in some way overblown. But the actual text, both from his acquaintance Rob Goldstone and Trump Jr. himself, suggests otherwise, and the most damning sentence from Trump Jr.'s Russia emails even has people wondering whether campaign laws may have been broken.
The meeting happened in early June 2016, arrnged with help from Goldstone, a music promoter. According to The New York Times, Goldstone was trying to set up a meeting on the behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov; notably, Emin's father, Aras Agalarov, is a real-estate oligarch who some have called the "Donald Trump of Russia."
In the first email, Goldstone gets right to the punch and explains that Russian friends have "some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." Then he says the one most troubling sentence of the whole email chain:
Update on Donald Trump Jr. and his previously undisclosed meeting with a Russian lawyer pic.twitter.com/TTWzM4TQmM— AFP news agency (@AFP) July 12, 2017
That right there could be what puts Trump in the cross hairs for having potentially broken the law. Goldstone spells out where the information would be coming from, and Trump Jr. still didn't resist. He was willing to accept the information from a foreign government — that's illegal under U.S. campaign finance law. Trump Jr. wrote back, "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."
According to legal experts who spoke with Vox, that alone could be enough to charge Trump Jr. with a crime. The law 52 USC 30121, 36 USC 510 prohibits contributions to campaigns from foreign nationals, and according to the lawyers, Trump admitted that he was willing to do just that. Ryan Goodman, former Defense Department special counsel, told Vox:
And if the FBI isn't already investigating Trump Jr., they very well could be soon — Business Insider reported that ethics group Common Cause already penned a letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Special Counsel on the Russia investigation Robert Mueller requesting an investigation, additionally filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.
These are serious allegations, and given that Trump Jr. released the emails himself, there is no doubt about their veracity. As you read in that damning line, Trump Jr. knew there was a possible offer of interference from the Russian government, and he gladly took it — or was willing to, assuming that nothing came of it as he claims.
What comes next is uncharted territory, but this is definitely serious business.