Donald J. Trump Jr. released four pages of emails related to promised political dirt from Russian officials on Hillary Clinton, denying wrongdoing as at least one member of Congress called the revelations potentially treasonous.
The president’s oldest son posted the email chain to Twitter at 11 a.m. Tuesday, minutes before the New York Times was set to break the story.
“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016,” Trump Jr. wrote in a statement. “To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russia fever was in vogue.”
The emails were between Trump Jr. and Goldstone, a music publicist who helped arrange a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer described in the emails as a "Russian government attorney."
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Goldstone wrote in the emails.
Seventeen minutes later, Trump Jr. responded, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the emails move Washington’s Russia investigations beyond potential obstruction of justice, delivering wheelbarrows of new evidence to the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and to the intelligence community.
“This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason,” Kaine told reporters.
But in an interview Tuesday, Georgetown University Political Scientist Hans C. Noel said the move to quickly convey transparency and adamantly deny wrongdoing could help the Trump Administration, as three separate investigations led by the House, Senate, and special counsel move forward.
“With partisan polarization, a lot of voters will stand by their candidate through a lot worse than this,” Noel said. “Even if the e-mail chain is incriminating, by denying any wrong-doing, he keeps their support.”
President Donald J. Trump rarely admitted fault on the campaign trail, with the glaring exception of the Access Hollywood tape released in August 2016. The trend of defiance to combat against any perceived weaknesses has continued into his presidency, notably on social media.
“This is what Trump himself did repeatedly throughout the campaign,” Noel said. “They probably think it will work again, and it might.”
As long as he is backed by the base of the Republican Party, future consequences could prove difficult to dispense against the president, with much of the decision power left to members of Congress.
“So long as enough Republican voters back Trump, Republicans in the House won’t want to vote to impeach, and Republicans in the Senate won’t want to vote to remove him from office. The politicians have to be making that sort of calculation.”