BY: JONATHAN EASLEY & JORDAN FABIAN, THEHILL.COM |
Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday released a stunning chain of emails detailing his conversations about setting up a campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer who had offered compromising information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The information “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” reads one of the emails from Rob Goldstone, who acted as an intermediary to set up the meeting.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” wrote Goldstone.
In another email, Goldstone suggested the information about Clinton could be given to then-candidate Donald Trump through Rhona Graff, his longtime assistant.
“I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first,” Goldstone wrote.
President Trump issued a brief statement defending his son through White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during an off-camera briefing with reporters.
“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” Trump said.
The revelation has shaken the White House, which for months has struggled to contain the fallout from a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Sanders said the president was “frustrated with the process” and “the fact that this continues to be an issue.”
She swatted away the notion that Trump Jr. may have committed perjury or treason, calling it “ridiculous,” and insisted that the president’s eldest son did not collude with the Russians in any way.
In Trump Jr.’s emails, Democrats believe they may have the smoking gun that proves Trump campaign officials colluded with the Russians in that effort.
“This is black and white — Trump officials at the highest levels knew Russia was working to aid Donald Trump and welcomed Russia’s interference,” said Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that is probing Russia’s election meddling.
Warner said repeated denials from the White House and Trump’s campaign “are all patently false” and that the “investigation will move forward in a bipartisan way. We need to follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Lawmakers are ramping up pressure on Trump Jr. to testify on Capitol Hill, with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) demanding he do so in public and under oath.
Trump Jr. tweeted Monday that he is “happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know,” but it’s unclear whether he would comply with such a request.