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Donald Trump Jr. Releases Email Exchange That Set Up Meeting With Russian Lawyer


And we've got an update now on that controversial meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. Also present at the meeting, Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort. This happened last June, during the presidential campaign. Donald Trump Jr. has tweeted out the email chain that set up this interview, this meeting in which he was apparently promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton. For more, we're joined now by NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro. Hi, Dominico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Great to be with you again.

MARTIN: What do these new emails say?

MONTANARO: Well, first of all, we should say that he posts them just as The New York Times was posting its story of - saying that it had the email. So Don Jr. decided to get those out there. And what these show - they confirm The New York Times' reporting, what they've been reporting over the last couple of days. And it's from June 3, 2016, and shows that he knew that he would be meeting with a Russian government attorney who had documents that would incriminate Hillary Clinton and be, quote, "very useful to your father." That's what was in one of the emails written.

MARTIN: And this is from Rob Goldstone, who is this music promoter who was helping set this thing up.

MONTANARO: Correct. And Goldstone, a former British tabloid journalist, is a promoter and somebody who is - one of his clients is Emin Agalarov, who's father is somebody who has had business dealings with Trump. Trump had actually - Trump Sr. had actually been about to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with him and had known him since the Miss Universe days in 2013. So this is all part of who you know, how they knew each other and some of their business and financial dealings is where this stems from.

There's a lot more in these emails where Donald Trump Jr. replied, if it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer. So saying he knew that this is coming from Russia, understood it's coming from the Russian government and loves the opposition research, the potential to use this information against Hillary Clinton. You know, it should also be noted that Goldstone offered to send this directly to Donald Trump Sr., to the president - then-candidate Trump - through his personal assistant, Rhona, as noted in the email. But Don Jr. said that he would take a look first.

MARTIN: So there's a lot to unpack here. But just to tease one of these elements out, the Russian lawyer in question spoke to NBC in an interview that aired today. And she said that she did nothing wrong, that she has no ties to the Russian government. But what these emails tweeted out by Don Jr. reveal is that it was his belief, it was his perception that he was taking a meeting with a lawyer connected to the Russian government and that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

MONTANARO: Or he at least overlooked that within those emails. He didn't - it didn't bother him enough to say that he was going to forward those, let's say, to the FBI.

MARTIN: It wasn't a red flag for him.

MONTANARO: It wasn't a red flag for him because obviously he was fine and willing to take the meeting. And the emails do show that it was supposed to be a Russian government official or attorney. Now, she denies, as you say, that she was this person. However, there have been - images being circulating around Twitter from June 14, 2014, from an - a hearing with Ambassador Michael McFaul, from - who was the ambassador to Russia from the United States, where she appears to be looking at his laptop in the front row of a congressional hearing.

MARTIN: So we don't know exactly what her role is.

MONTANARO: I don't think you can believe what she says is her role.

MARTIN: What's next? What does this mean for the direction of the investigations? I imagine lawmakers are weighing in.

MONTANARO: Well, we've heard absolutely nothing from Robert Mueller, who's the former FBI director and special counsel. He's going to be looking into this. And it should be noted, Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton's choice to be vice president, said that we are now beyond obstruction of justice and could even be looking at treason.

MARTIN: NPR - Domenico Montanaro. Thanks so much.

MONTANARO: Hey, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.