Donald Trump Jr.’s release of an email chain setting up his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer has created a fresh set of discrepancies about the June 2016 sit-down at Trump Tower.
President Donald Trump’s oldest son has acknowledged that he went to the meeting under the impression that it would yield information “helpful” to his father’s presidential campaign, but he has defended it as seeking standard opposition research.
On Tuesday, ahead of a New York Times report that he had been informed of a Russian government effort to support his father’s campaign in an email setting up the meeting, Trump Jr. posted what he said was the full exchange on Twitter “in order to be totally transparent.”
Those emails raise new questions about some of Trump Jr.’s previous statements on the controversy.
A spokesman for Paul Manafort, who was then the campaign chairman and attended the meeting, declined to comment on Tuesday. Representatives for Jared Kushner, the third campaign adviser in the meeting, and Trump Jr. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump Jr. said he kept Kushner and Manafort in the dark about the subject of the meeting, but he appeared to forward them emails about it beforehand.
As the controversy surrounding the June 2016 meeting has played out, Trump Jr. has sought to minimize the role two other top Trump campaign advisers, Kushner and Manafort, played in arranging it.
On Saturday, Trump Jr. said simply that he “asked Jared and Paul to stop by.” On Sunday, in response to reporting that he had gone to the meeting seeking dirt on Clinton, Trump Jr. further downplayed Kushner and Manafort’s involvement. “I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance,” he said.
But the emails Trump Jr. posted to Twitter on Tuesday seem to contradict that statement. They show Trump Jr. emailing Kushner and Manafort about the meeting under the subject line “FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” meaning he informed them of at least the general topic beforehand.
It also appeared Trump Jr. may have forwarded the entire email chain, where there were details: The messages explicitly reference “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
It’s not clear from the documents whether either Kushner or Manafort read the email chain. A source close to Manafort said he did not read to the bottom of the email and didn’t know who specifically he would be meeting.
Trump Jr. says lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has no government ties, but one email refers to a ‘Russian government attorney’ coming to meet him
In a statement alongside the email chain he posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Trump Jr. defended his decision to take the June 2016 meeting by noting that “the woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official.”
But the email exchange published Tuesday suggests that Trump Jr. had reason to think he was meeting with someone working on behalf of the Russian government.
Rob Goldstone, the music industry publicist who reached out to Trump Jr. about setting up the meeting, started their conversation by saying that a Russian official wanted to provide the Trump campaign with incriminating material about Clinton and referenced “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
And when moving to schedule a time to meet, Goldstone said it would be with a “Russian government attorney.”
Trump Jr. said he did not know Veselnitskaya’s name before the meeting, but Goldstone indicated that he would tell him in advance
Trump Jr. has said he did not know Veselnitskaya’s name until he sat down with her.
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign,” he said in a statement on Sunday. “I was not told her name prior to the meeting.”
The emails Trump Jr. posted to Twitter on Tuesday do not reference Veselnitskaya by name, but Goldstone indicated that he would follow up with the names of the people planning to attend the meeting for security purposes.
“I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today,” Goldstone wrote on June 7, two days before the June 9 meeting.
It is unclear whether Goldstone did follow up with that information; Trump Jr.’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he did, and Goldstone has not responded to repeated requests.
Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this story.