Updated at 8:29 p.m. ET
With the disclosure of a June 2016 email in which he welcomed direct assistance from the Russian government to help his father’s campaign, Donald Trump Jr. leapt Tuesday from the frying pan of political danger into the fire of potential legal peril.
The president’s eldest son became a central figure in questions about interference in last year’s election after The New York Times revealed Monday that he met with a Russian lawyer after learning she had damaging information to offer about Hillary Clinton. In an email setting up the meeting, Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist who’d met Trump Jr. at a Moscow beauty pageant four years earlier, indicated that the information came from the Russian government.
The Crown prosecutor met with [musician Emin Agalarov’s] father Aras this morning and in their meeting 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.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.
Trump Jr. replied with interest to what Goldstone’s associates had to offer. “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” he wrote. He eventually met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer Goldstone linked to the Russian government in a later email, on June 9, 2016. He was accompanied by his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, now a top adviser to the president, and the campaign’s then-chairman, Paul Manafort.
From Trump Jr.’s account to the Times, the meeting was a bust. Veselnitskaya purportedly offered no useful information about Clinton’s candidacy. Instead, she shifted the conversation to the Magnitsky Act, an American law that sanctions top Russian officials for their alleged role in human-rights abuses, and Russian adoptions to American parents, which were suspended by Russian President Vladimir Putin in retaliation for Congress passing the law in 2012. For now, however, it matters less that the meeting wasn’t fruitful and a great deal more that it happened in the first place.