Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has asserted that President Donald Trump must have known the Russian government was attempting to subvert the 2016 presidential, citing Donald Trump Jr.'s newly released emails.
On June 3, 2016, Donald Trump Jr. was contacted by entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone, a representative of Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. Goldstone told Donald Trump Jr. that Agalarov's father, real estate magnate Aras Agalarov, had been told that Russian President Vladimir Putin's government had damaging information about Clinton, The New York Times reports.
On July 11, Fallon asserted that the president must have known that the email exchange and subsequent meeting had occurred.
"It is impossible to believe that the president himself did not know about this," Fallon told CNN.
Earlier on July 11, Donald Trump Jr. posted his email chain on Twitter after The New York Times informed him its journalists had obtained a copy. The first son stated he believed that Russian information being offered by Goldstone was "Political Opposition Research."
Goldstone had emailed Donald Trump Jr. that a Russian official had met with Aras Agalarov "and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary ... This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
"If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," Donald Trump Jr. replied.
On June 9, 2016, Goldstone reportedly introduced Trump Jr. to Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower, in Manhattan. The meeting was also attended by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.'s brother-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a White House special adviser.
Donald Trump Jr. said the meeting with Veselnitskaya "had no meaningful information."
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Putin administration mounted a cyber campaign to subvert the 2016 presidential race by stealing and releasing emails from the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign. Fallon believes that the recently disclosed email chain is direct evidence the Trump campaign attempted to collude with the Russian government to undermine the Clinton campaign.
"I thought that at best, at the end of this investigation, you'd have a bunch of circumstantial evidence that would be all close call in terms of -- having any criminal repercussions to it," Fallon said. "But this is as clear as day."
The former Clinton spokesman added that he found it hard to believe the president did not know about his son's activities.
"Even if the president didn't know about this meeting itself, it's impossible to think that for all the months during the campaign, as the emails were being leaked out by the Russians, that there wasn't at some point a conversation where the son revealed to the father that he knew of a Russian government plot to help the Trump campaign."
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah dismissed accusations that Donald Trump Jr.'s emails were proof that the Trump campaign attempted to collude with Russia.
"He's not in the administration," Hatch said. "He may be the son of the president but he doesn't have the authority to speak for the president."
On July 6, the president cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence consensus that Russia had meddled in the election, The Hill reports.
"I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries ... Nobody really knows," the president said during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland. "Nobody really knows for sure."