In the third twist in as many days, a report released Monday evening states that Donald Trump Jr. was aware that the damaging information on Hillary Clinton offered to him during the 2016 campaign was provided by the Russian government, according to The New York Times.
The president's eldest son met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya regarding "information helpful to the campaign" in June 2016, shortly after his father clinched the presidential nomination. Three anonymous sources told The Times that an email in advance of the the meeting informed Trump Jr. that the Russian government was the source of the information offered.
The email allegedly noted that the information was part of a larger effort to aid the Trump campaign and discredit Clinton, The Times reported.
The alleged email did not however elaborate on the larger plan, and there's no evidence suggesting that the supposed information was part of the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee.
The younger Trump has repeatedly adjusted his statement regarding the meeting with Veselnitskaya.
The news first broke on July 8 that Trump Jr., along with the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort had attended a meeting with Veselnitskaya, who is known to have ties to the Kremlin.
On July 9, it was reported that the meeting had involved an offer to share damaging information on opponent Hillary Clinton.
Following the initial reports, Trump Jr. said in a statement that the conversation had been a “short introductory meeting” in which they had primarily discussed an adoption program for Russian children, with no mention of other topics of discussion. On the evening of July 9, after it was reported that Veselnitskaya had offered information on Clinton, he said that he had met with someone who he had been told "might have information helpful to the campaign.”
[The] woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information ... the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.
Elite Daily has reached out to representatives of Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort, but had received no reply at the time of publication.
On Twitter on Monday, Trump Jr. defended the decision to meet with the Russian lawyer.
His statements have been viewed as potentially incriminating.
Campaigns are prohibited from accepting any contribution “of value” from a foreign national, a definition which could potentially cover information. Though Trump Jr.'s defense is that Veselnitskaya turned out to not have anything of value and that he therefore didn't accept anything from her, the fact that he agreed to the meeting at all could land him in hot water. This latest development does not take the pressure off.
Within an hour of the Monday evening report, the phrase “According to Email” was trending on Twitter.
Some noted the irony of an email scandal, however belated, out of the Trump campaign, after Clinton's private email server became a Republican talking point during the 2016 campaign.
Notably silent was the country's most prominent Twitter user, Trump Jr.'s father President Trump. The POTUS continued to refrain from weighing in on his son's scandal.
An investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election is ongoing.
Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies are in agreement that Russia worked to influence the election, although President Trump himself has been notoriously reluctant to admit it. The email to Trump Jr. will likely be of great interest to them.