Multiple sources confirmed to CNN Thursday that Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who organized the June 9, 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian officials, sent a series of emails to a Russian participant and a key member of then-candidate Donald Trump’s inner circle in the days following, detailing a “weird” coincidence that may have stemmed from the meeting.
This is the first indication that the Trump campaign — specifically Trump Jr. — may have lied about what was discussed at that June 9 meeting, or the fact that he may have continued communicating with the attendees later.
For months, Trump Jr. has contended that he attended the meeting under the false pretense that he would be receiving compromising information about then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In the end, he claimed, the conversation wound up being about the issue of Russian adoption and there was no further discussion with the participants following the meeting.
“There wasn’t really follow-up because there was nothing there to follow up. You know, as we were walking out, [Goldstone] said ‘Listen, I’m sorry for that […]. There was some puffery to the email, perhaps to get the meeting, to make it happen, and you know, in the end, there was probably some bait and switch about what it was really supposed to be about,” Trump Jr. told Fox News host Sean Hannity this summer. “And so, you know, there is nothing there.”
According to one of the emails obtained by CNN, Goldstone forwarded a CNN story on June 14, 2016 about the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to his client, musician Emin Agalarov, and Ike Kaveladze, a Russian translator who attended the June 9 meeting with Trump Jr., senior adviser Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Goldstone describes the article as “eerily weird” given the discussion they had at Trump Tower just five days prior.
A second email from Goldstone to senior Trump campaign aide Dan Scavino, who is now the White House social media director, “encourage[s] Scavino to get candidate Trump to create a page on the Russian social networking site VK”, according to CNN. In it, Goldstone claims that “Don and Paul” were on board with the idea during the June 9 meeting.
The emails suggest that some of the individuals who were present at the June 9 meeting have not been forthcoming about what was discussed.
One of the sources familiar with the content of Goldstone’s email has since tried to downplay the coincidence expressed in the interaction, saying news of a DNC hack was “eerily weird” because in the days leading up to the Trump Tower meeting, the Russian participants of the meeting had promised information about Russian funding of the DNC. But if the public believes Trump Jr., that information was never provided to him, as he told Hannity, nor was the topic of a DNC hack ever discussed.
Trump Jr. spent nearly eight hours Wednesday testifying before the House Intelligence Committee and was asked about the Goldstone emails. According to Trump Jr., he was not aware of them nor could recall the contents.