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Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday suddenly released the emails setting up his meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer during the presidential campaign — in which the person who facilitated the sitdown wrote to him, "this is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
The meeting took place at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, with Trump Jr, Paul Manafort (Trump's then-campaign manager) and Jared Kushner (Trump's son-in-law and now a senior White House advisor) in attendance. They met wth with Natalia Veselnitskaya in a session set up by music publicist Rob Goldstone.
The emails have been published in reverse order, with page four showing the first email where Goldstone – who Trump Jr met during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow – offered the Trump campaign information "that would incriminate Hillary".
Goldstone clearly said that the information is "part of Russia and its government’s support of Trump", and Trump Jr replies "if that's what you say I love it."
Here are the first emails from the exchange:June 3, 2016
Rob Goldstone wrote:
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his 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 of Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Rob GoldstoneJune 3, 2016
Donald Trump Jr wrote:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Erin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
Further emails then go back and forth planning the meeting in Trump tower, with Goldstone later calling the attorney in the emails "The Russian government attorney":June 7, 2016
Rob Goldstone wrote:
Hope all is well
Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.
I believe you are aware of the meeting - and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?
I assume it would be at your office.
Trump Jr also released a statement along with the emails — which he published moments before a New York Times story was posted about them — attempting to pre-empt the news:
The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Meeting... The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official. And, as a we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act.
"To put this is context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue", added Trump Jr.
He then quoted Goldstone from media reports today, where he called the meeting "the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it".
Paul Manafort's lawyer, Reginald Brown, declined to comment. Lawyers for Jared Kushner and a spokesman for President Trump's legal team did not immediately return requests for comment.
Peter Carr, the spokesman for the office of Robert Mueller — the special counsel investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow — said "We’ll decline to comment on the ongoing investigation" when asked if the emails were provided to his office.
Reactions from members of Congress about Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the email chain between him and an intermediary of a Russian lawyer began to trickle in, including from members of the House Intelligence Committee.
"Trump Jr. was willing to betray US to cheat for his Dad's campaign. Would be foolish to call this "shocking." It fits #RussiaHacking pattern," tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the committee looking into possible Russian involvement into the US Presidential elections. In a statement to BuzzFeed news, Swalwell said that the emails "fit the pattern of a campaign that had personal, political, and financial ties to Russia which may have converged with Russia's attack on our democracy.
"There's no escaping it: The Trump Campaign's inner circle met with an agent of a hostile foreign power to influence the outcome of an American elections," said Democratic Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in a statement.
US Senator Dianne Feinstein said it was "premature " to call the latest revelations treason but said the developments were "serious."
"It's a dead bang case that ought to be in front of the judiciary committee right now and Mr. Trump Jr. be required to testify and fill in the blanks," Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill.
In a tweet, Rep. Joaquin Castro, who also serves on the Intelligence Committee, said that the emails "confirm" that the "Russian govt wanted to help Trump." Castro also said it proved that, "There were Russian & American intermediaries," and that "The Trump family participated."
Congressman Mike Quigley said the email disclosures show that "...Trump Jr. was aware of Russia's attempt to aid father’s campaign is incredibly troubling, underscores importance of investigation."
"WH consistently attempts to discredit search for facts, but as new info emerges re: campaign-Russia ties, we remain focused on our mission," Quigley continued.
Jim Himes, a Congressman from Connecticut called Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the emails an "act of self-incrimination" that's "right up there with, say, firing the guy who is investigating you because he is investigating you."
After news of the meeting organized by Trump Jr broke this week, he vehemently denied that he'd done anything wrong.
Trump Jr will appear on Sean Hannity's program this evening, a Fox News producer tweeted.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.