Michael Hayden, former CIA Director has said that Trump Jr’s enthusiasm in accepting a meeting with a Russian lawyer pointed to “soft collusion” with Russia.
According to various reports, a total of eight people attended this meeting including senior White House advisor Jared Kushner.
It has become difficult for the White House to disregard the ongoing investigation on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during 2016 elections.
According to American intelligence agencies, Russia interfered with the US elections. In March 2017, FBI director, James Comey said that the agency was investigating possible links between Russian government and Trump campaign aides.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has appointed former head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, to investigate this matter. Additional information was leaked that Trump himself was under investigation for “obstruction of justice” having fired Comey on May 2017.
Emails released by Donald Trump Jr show that he accepted a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney in hopes of receiving detrimental information about Hillary Clinton. In June 2016, Trump Jr met with Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone.
Who attended this meeting?
Donald Trump Jr: Trump Jr played a vital role during the campaign and has since provided vocal support to the White House policies.
Jared Kushner: The President’s son-in-law and current senior advisor the White House.
Paul Manafort: The former Chairman of the Trump campaign.
Natalia Veselnitskaya: A lawyer with deep ties to the Kremlin. Among others, she represents the family of former vice governor of Moscow region, Pyotr Katsyv. In May 2017, a case where she represented the son of Pyotr Katsyv was abruptly settled by the DoJ. Details can be found here.
Rob Goldstone: A music producer with ties to Russia. He was the one who had reached out to Trump Jr through email.
Rinat Akhmetshin: A current American citizen, Akhmetshin had worked with Russia’s Main Intelligence Agency (GRU). He currently works in Washington as a lobbyist and uses his Kremlin connection to further his agenda.
Anatoli Samochornov: An American citizen, he is a Russian translator.
An unnamed person: This person’s name or connection to the campaign have not become public. However, CNN reported that the person is probably a representative of the Agalarov family. According to the emails, it was at the behest of the Russian family that the meeting was arranged by Goldstone. Aras Agalarov is a powerful billionaire in Kremlin. He was Trump’s business partner in hosting the Miss Universe competition in Moscow in 2013.
Trump Jr has maintained that he has done nothing wrong. According to him the meeting did not result in any meaningful exchange of information.
Michael Hayden, former CIA Director has publicly made statements noting that this meeting pointed to “soft collusion”. He elaborated, “The kind of soft collusion I'm referring to here was the line in the email that simply suggested 'if you got bad stuff, August or September, late summer is the time we'll really need it.”
Our assessment is that the credibility of the White House has been called into question as details of this meeting continue to emerge. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that approval for Donald Trump is 36%. This is the lowest approval rating at the six-month mark of any president in 70 years. Haydon is a trusted figure among the American public and his judgment will carry more weight.