In what seems to be the White House’s most severe crisis since the Trump administration’s inauguration back in January, Donald Trump Jr. and Natalya Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, have become the center of attention in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.
The latest twist in the saga comes as emails between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya became public. The emails, dated June 2016, question the integrity of the White House’s main defense against accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 elections.
The Trump administration has consistently denied any wrongdoing and that even though Russia may have interfered in the elections at some capacity, there was absolutely no coordination or communication between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
However, the latest revelations regarding the emails show that Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, wrote an email to Trump Jr., saying a Russian lawyer could offer compromising information on Donald Trump’s main opponent Hillary Clinton.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Goldstone wrote.
According to the records, Trump Jr. wrote back 17 minutes later, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
In an attempt to “be totally transparent,” Trump Jr. took to twitter to publish the emails before The New York Times could. In his statement on Twitter, he said that he was publishing the emails “in order to be totally transparent.”
Many in the Republican camp were also startled by the shocking new twist in the Russian story.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said that, “anytime you’re in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no.” Graham further added that he feels the emails are “disturbing” and that the president’s son should testify before Congress.
Other renowned conservatives were outraged with the news.
“I think it’s devastating for the Trump presidency, I think it’s devastating for Donald Trump Jr. and I think it’s devastating to everybody within the Trump orbit, because it is beginning to confirm the worst suspicions and gravest concerns about the Trump campaign,” said Peter Wehner, who has worked in three past Republican administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
“It is clear that we were misled and that everything the Trump campaign said in relation to Russia has to be taken with a grain of salt,” Wehner added.
It seemed pretty clear that the White House was also in a state of chaos as these new revelation came to light.
During an off camera press briefing that lasted almost 22 minutes, Sarah Sanders, White House spokeswoman could only respond to reporters’ questions regarding the emails that any queries be taken to the personal lawyers of the persons involved.
During the press briefing, Sanders read out a short statement from President Trump, “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”
The president also appeared to have kept away from Twitter regarding the controversy surrounding his eldest son. However, he did share a post regarding “big wins against ISIS!” and also about his hard work to bring the Olympics to the US.
Attorney Alan Futerfas also confirmed on Monday that he had been asked to stay on the team by Trump Jr. to deal with the Russian controversy.
Trump loyalists too, while admitting that the newly published emails seemed to be posing a grave problem, tried to put on a brave face when talking about the matter.
A Trump aide from the early days of the campaign, Sam Nunberg, acknowledged that the new twist would give an opportunity for harsh criticism to “the media and the White House’s adversaries.”
However he also reinstated his belief that the story will eventually die in a matter of days as the promised information on Clinton was not delivered to Trump Jr. when he met Veselnitskaya along with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on June 09, 2016.
“There is no more to the story,” Nunberg said. “Everyone admits they didn’t get anything. The lawyer is not connected with the Kremlin. She doesn’t work for the Russian government.”