Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday released a chain of emails that established beyond any doubt that he was eager to receive derogatory information about Hillary Clinton from agents of the Russian government.
The emails also further undercut the notion — endlessly propagated by Donald Trump Sr. — that investigations into Russian meddling into last year’s election are a “witch hunt.”
The emails begin on June 3 with a message from Rob Goldstone, a music promoter with business dealings in Russia, who tells the younger Trump that a Russian official was willing to provide the Trump campaign with “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” The offer, Goldstone said, was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr.’s response: “If it’s what you say, I love it.”
Goldstone later proposed a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” soon to be flying to the U.S. Trump Jr. summoned Paul Manafort, then the chairman of the campaign, and his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, to the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya; he later complained that “she had no information to provide” and wanted instead to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law imposing sanctions on Russian human-rights violators. (Veselnitskaya has denied that she offered to share damaging information about Clinton and said she never worked for the Russian government.)
Notwithstanding his shopper’s remorse, Trump Jr. was clearly willing to accept what he calls “Political Opposition Research” from Russia. That admission makes a mockery of his claim in July of last year — several weeks after his meeting with the Russian lawyer — that Democratic accusations that Russia was helping the Trump campaign were “disgusting” and “phony.”
Unsavory as it is, the behavior of Donald Trump Jr. may not have violated the law and it doesn’t establish that the Trump campaign was complicit in other Russian activities connected to the 2016 campaign, notably the hacking of Democratic email accounts and the relaying of their contents to WikiLeaks. But after this revelation, no one can pretend that the various investigations into possible contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign are frivolous or politically motivated.
That includes President Trump, who should take a belated vow of silence on this subject and let the investigations take their course.
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