On Tuesday afternoon, as speculation about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June of 2016 reached fever pitch, the younger Trump chose to release the full email exchange leading to the meeting via Twitter. The information the senior Donald Trump's onetime business partner, Rob Goldstone, offered "would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." Goldstone claimed that it was "part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” So what information about Hillary Clinton did Russia supposedly have, at least according to these emails?
Ironically, even though the email correspondence has landed the president's son and the Trump administration in hot water, all signs point to the "information" being unfounded. On Monday, Trump Jr. himself tweeted: "Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent," adding, "Went nowhere but had to listen." This statement serves as confirmation that Trump Jr. read the email, considered the contents potentially serious, and went on to take the meeting.
It's unclear what the information about Hillary Clinton that "went nowhere" was, and no member of the Trump administration has even confirmed that it existed. However, the so-called dirt on Hillary Clinton isn't the issue at hand. By releasing the emails along with his Monday statement about the meeting, Trump Jr. seems to have confirmed that he was aware that Russia was attempting to meddle in the 2016 election.
That's thanks to this much-discussed portion of the email exchange:
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
To this, Trump Jr. responded:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
The issue isn't the "I love it" quote, though its exuberance is certainly unsettling. It's also not a huge problem that Trump Jr. believed there to be damaging information floating around about his father's opponent, and that he sought to investigate this. What is a painful problem for the Trump administration is that it's now impossible to deny that Trump Jr. was aware of Russian meddling in the election, whether successful or otherwise.
It's worth noting that Trump Jr. is not a member of the administration, unlike his sister, Ivanka. Instead, Trump Jr. runs the Trump Organization with his brother, Eric.