It has been revealed by the New York Times that in early June of last year, Donald Trump Jr met with a Russian lawyer linked to the Putin regime. The meeting was arranged by an English former tabloid journalist turned publicist, who contacted Jr with promises of juicy info on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Sr had just clinched the Republican nomination and Jr jumped at the chance to get his hands on negative material about his father’s rival for the White House.
When the story first leaked over the weekend, Donald Jr agreed he met with a Russian lawyer, but that the meeting was just about policies regarding adoption from Russia to the USA. After the NYT came back with more evidence that the meeting was indeed more salacious that this, Jr changed his tune and said yes, they did talk about Hillary, but only for ten minutes and then the rest was about child adoption. It was also revealed that Jared Kushner, brother-in-law to Jr, and Paul Manafort, the then Trump campaign chief who later stepped down due to links to Russia, were also at the meeting. Then came the biggest revelation of the whole affair; on Twitter (of course…), Donald Jr released what appear to be photocopies of the email exchange in which the whole affair was organised.
It’s in these emails that the fuel for what is no doubt going to be a long running political fire is to be found. Two lines from the email exchanges stand out as particularly incriminating. "This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump", from the middle man was followed by Donald Jr saying "if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer" combine to link the Trump campaign and administration even closer to the allegations that it colluded with Russia in last year’s campaigns. It further undermines the President’s attempts to push the scandal aside by calling the Russia ties ‘fake news’ or a ‘total hoax’. Indeed, prior to this episode; Donald Jr joined his Dad in calling talk of collusion ‘disgusting’ and ‘phony’. These emails show that he had fact jumped at the opportunity to receive help from what he thought was a Russian government source.
This is still not the elusive ‘smoking gun’ that will undeniably tie Trump to illegal deeds by Russia. But it certainly will be of interest to the special consul Robert Mueller and the FBI, both of who are still at the beginning of their investigations into this saga. The key to making a legal case will be for them to find evidence of a conspiracy to undermine the US electoral process. But politically, if revelations such as these continue to hit the Trump administration, the attrition will soon become too much.