President Donald Trump’s son has released emails which show him eager to get dirt on Hillary Clinton during the presidential election which was seemingly an act of support by the Kremlin for his father.
The emails, tweeted on Tuesday, are between Donald Trump Jr and Rob Goldstone, a publicist who helped to arrange the June 2016, meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, who says she is a private lawyer and denies Kremlin ties.
The email chain’s disclosures could provide ammunition for US investigators probing collusion between the Kremlin and Trump’s Republican presidential campaign.
“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 email to Trump Jr from Goldstone.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Goldstone writes.
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr partly replies.
He tweeted they represent the entire chain of his emails about the meeting.
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 lawyers.
The New York Times, which broke news of the meeting with the lawyer, said Trump Jr tweeted out the emails after being told the newspaper was about to publish them.
In a statement accompanying the emails, Trump Jr said he released them "in order to be totally transparent" and the Russian lawyer "had no information to provide".
Instead, he said she wanted to discuss adoptions and sanctions.
Here is page 4 (which did not post due to space constraints). pic.twitter.com/z1Xi4nr2gq
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
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.
Goldstone's promise of incriminating information on Democratic presidential candidate Clinton as "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 US presidential campaign in which Trump beat Clinton.
Moscow has denied any interference, and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.
"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 US law enforcement rather than having the meeting.
A Senate source said the Senate Intelligence Committee planned to call Trump Jr to testify and is seeking documents from him.
Mia Freedman chats to Paul Murray about US politics on Tell Me It's Going To Be OK.