Donald Trump Jr. releases emails setting up his meeting with 'Russian government attorney'

WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) - Presidential candidate Donald Trump's eldest son eagerly agreed last year to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have information incriminating Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as part of Kremlin support for his father, according to an email chain released on Tuesday.

The emails in the chain were between Donald Trump Jr., who posted it on Twitter, and Rob Goldstone, a publicist who helped to arrange the June 9, 2016, meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, who says she is a private lawyer and denies having Kremlin ties.

RELATED: Donald Trump Jr. from the campaign trail to the White House

20 PHOTOS
Donald Trump Jr.
See Gallery
Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump, Jr., son of US President Donald Trump, attends the 139th White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. arrives to speak during the second session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Donald Trump Jr. pumps his fist after speaking about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa attend the second day session at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Tiffany Trump. daughter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, sits near her half-brother Donald Trump Jr. (C) during evening speeches at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) smiles as his son Donald Trump Jr. speaks for a moment at a campaign rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Donald Trump Jr, son of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, tours the arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Donald Trump Jr. (R) kicks balloons into the crowd as Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence stand with their families onstage at the end of the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump Jr with his children arrives at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., after Easter weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Donald Trump Jr. (R) makes remarks at a press conference while Joo Kim Tiah (C) the CEO of TA Global, the owner and developer of Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver, looks on with Eric Danziger the CEO of Trump Hotels (L) during the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Nick Didlick
U.S. President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump, Jr., watch children roll Easter Eggs at 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool
BOZEMAN, MT - APRIL 22: Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a rally for Republican Greg Gianforte as he campaigns for the Montana House of Representatives seat vacated by the appointment of Ryan Zinke to head the Department of Interior on April 22, 2017 in Bozeman, Montana. Gianforte is running against democrat Rob Quist in the special election to be held on May 25, 2017. (Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The email chain's disclosures could provide ammunition for U.S. investigators probing whether there was collusion between the Kremlin and Trump's Republican presidential campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow sought to hurt Clinton and help Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

"The Crown prosecutor of Russia ... 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," said the June 3, 2016, email to Trump Jr. from publicist Rob Goldstone.

"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump," according to the email Trump Jr. posted on Twitter.

"If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," Trump Jr. partly replied in the exchange, which he said represented the entire chain of his emails about the meeting.

Hot takes on Trump Jr.'s emails:

21 PHOTOS
Politicians, pundits sound off on Donald Trump Jr.'s emails
See Gallery
Politicians, pundits sound off on Donald Trump Jr.'s emails
If this isn't treasonous, I'm not sure what is. https://t.co/QrBaaf4psM
Is this Hillary Collusion?? https://t.co/JMX4kqIbt7
Quick reminder: something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be foolish, wrong and un-American. @DonaldJTrumpJr https://t.co/nnWxmryCKV
.@LindseyGrahamSC on CNN: I know Don Jr and Jared Kushner are new to politics but this is going to require a lot of questions to be answered
.@realDonaldTrump’s son & aides met w/ Russian agent to influence our election. That is a fact.… https://t.co/Enf0NK8AGj
.@MerriamWebster definition of #collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful p… https://t.co/Rqo26PD5Xw
Liberal media in a frenzy because Donald Trump Jr released all his emails. Should've just deleted them. We know that's fine with them!
What seems interesting: Email tells Trump Jr. the effort is part of Russia government's efforts to help Trump. He doesn't ask questions.
"On its face, this email chain is proof of a willingness expressed by @DonaldJTrumpJr to collude with Russia" --@JakeTapper on @CNN
So...this is it right?
I consider my friend @DonaldJTrumpJr a honorable man in every sense of the word . 🇺🇸✌️
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman says Trump Jr. emails are "almost a smoking cannon." Told me "there's no question this is treason."
.@matthewamiller: I don't know how anyone can come out and defend what is in these emails, whether republican or democrat #AMR
Graham: Trump Jr. "definitely has to testify" https://t.co/SzwEwq9LLE
Sen. Hatch says the Don Jr. emails are not "relevant" and "all this stuff about Trump's sons and daughter -- it's a bunch of bunk."
Statement from @VPPressSec on Donald Trump Jr meeting and @VP's knowledge https://t.co/iYiyoWfHRx
There's NO way Don Jr, Jared & Paul Manafort met w/ the Russian Gov't operative without advising Donald Trump in advance. HE'S GUILTY, TOO!
Tapper: "This can't be dismissed as people out to get Donald J. Trump Jr. or fake news. This is evidence of willing… https://t.co/oSaRNQBtLb
So, I just talked to Mark Warner: https://t.co/eXm4ECI3OW
Sen @ChrisMurphyCT on Don Jr: "For a long time we saw a lot of smoke but no fire, you're seeing the fire today."
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The exchange includes at least one error. Russia has a prosecutor general rather than a "crown prosecutor." A spokesman for the prosecutor general declined to comment immediately.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters that the president applauded his son's transparency in releasing the emails and viewed him as a "high-quality person," referring all other questions to Trump's and his son's lawyers.

Trump Jr. and his younger brother, Eric Trump, run the Trump Organization, which their father headed before going to the White House.

U.S. MARKETS WOBBLE ON NEWS

Financial markets appeared to have been jarred by the email disclosure.

Following his tweets, the S&P 500 Index slid by about 0.6 percent in about 20 minutes, although it has since retraced about half that move. The dollar index, the broadest measure of the U.S. currency's strength, weakened by about 0.25 percent and U.S. bond yields are at their lows of the day.

"This is going to be another obstacle for President Trump to make progress on his agenda," said Alan Lancz, president of investment advisory firm Alan B. Lancz & Associates in Toledo, Ohio. "That's why you've had such a severe and quick reaction."

The New York Times, which over the weekend first reported the meeting with the lawyer, saidTrump Jr. tweeted out the emails after being told the newspaper was about to publish their content, rather than responding to its request for comment.

In a statement accompanying the emails, Trump Jr. said he released them "in order to be totally transparent" and played down the meeting, saying the Russian lawyer "had no information to provide."

Instead, he said she wanted to discuss adoptions and the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that sanctioned Russian officials linked to human rights abuses. After Congress passed the law in 2012, Putin banned U.S. adoption of Russian children.

Legal experts are divided on whether Trump Jr.'s participation in the meeting with the Russian lawyer could lead to criminal liability.

Collusion in and of itself is not a crime. But if the younger Trump conspired or aided and abetted a criminal action, such as hacking into American computer networks, that could be grounds for criminal charges.

Several lawyers also said the meeting could run afoul of federal election laws barring campaigns from accepting gifts or things of value from foreign nationals.

The emails do not at first glance appear to provide evidence of illegal activity.

TRUMP JR. TESTIMONY SOUGHT

However, Goldstone's statement that the promise of incriminating information on Democratic presidential candidate Clinton was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump" provides new fodder for federal and congressional investigators who are probing Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in which Trump beat Clinton.

Moscow has denied any interference, and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.

The disclosure of the emails seems certain to increase both public scrutiny and official inquiries into the question of Russian interference, creating greater political pressure on Trump, whose first six months in office have been dogged by the issue.

Democrats, and even some Republicans, seized on the emails as evidence that the issue of Russian interference in the election deserves greater attention.

"These emails are very explosive," Clinton's vice presidential running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, told MSNBC, saying the Trump associates should have flagged the Russian overture to U.S. law enforcement rather than having the meeting.

"This is very problematic. We cannot allow foreign governments to reach out to anybody's campaign and say 'we'd like to help you,'" Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters at the U.S. Capitol. "That is a non-starter."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the matter, as are U.S. congressional committees, including the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence panels.

A Senate source said the Senate Intelligence Committee planned to call the president's son to testify and that it was seeking documents from him.

(Reporting by David Alexander, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Arshad Mohammed, Warren Strobel and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova, Denis Pinchuk and Svetlana Reiter in Moscow, by Mark Hosenball in London and by Lindsey Kortyka in New York; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Tom Brown and Jonathan Oatis)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.