In an apparent effort to preempt the New York Times, Donald Trump Jr. released a series of emails on Tuesday detailing his meeting with a Russian attorney who claimed to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
According to the emails, the information was “very high level and sensitive” and part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
But the full emails also detail a possible communications channel from the Kremlin directly to President Donald Trump.
Step 1: The Kremlin
The emails say the information on Clinton originated from the Russian government. They also refer to a meeting with the “Crown prosecutor of Russia,” which is believed to be a reference to Yury Chaika, one of Russia’s most powerful people.
The "Crown prosecutor" mentioned is Yury Chaika. Here's a video opposition politician Navalny made about his family. https://t.co/bku0qElUYm
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) July 11, 2017
Are we thinking that “Crown prosecutor of Russia” means Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, aka one of the most powerful people in Russia?
— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) July 11, 2017
Step 2: Aras Agalarov
The emails reveal that the “Crown prosecutor” communicated the offer of damaging information about Hillary Clinton to Aras Agalarov, the Russian billionaire who sponsored Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow. He is also closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who presented the elder Agalarov with the Order of Honour.
Step 3: Emin Agalarov
Emin Agalarov is Aras’ son and a pop singer in Russia. According to the emails, Aras passed the information from the Russian government to Emin. In an interview with Forbes, Emin claims to maintain regular contact with the Trump family.
Trump appeared in a music video with Emin.
Step 4: Rod Goldstone
Rod Goldstone is Emin’s publicist and also was involved in the 2013 Miss Universe competition. It was Goldstone who emailed Trump Jr. with the information from Emin.
Step 5: Rhona Graff
Graff is Trump’s longtime assistant.
“When longtime friends and associates of President Donald Trump want to reach him, they don’t go directly to the White House. Instead, they call the woman who’s been the gatekeeper at Trump Tower for a quarter century: Rhona Graff,” Politico reported in March.
In his emails to Trump Jr, Goldstone offered to pass the information to directly to Trump Sr. through Graff.
“I can also send this info to your father via Rhona,” Goldstone wrote.
Step 6: Donald Trump
Trump has attempted to distance himself from Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. A spokesman for Trump’s personal lawyer said he “was unaware of the meeting and did not attend it.”
But whether or not he knew about this particular meeting, the emails released by his son firmly establish that there was a relatively straightforward way for top officials in the Russian government to pass information to Trump.
This is significant in light of Trump’s repeated denials that he had any active connections to Russia or the Russian government.