WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump's eldest son yesterday released e-mails showing he embraced Russia's efforts to support his father's presidential campaign, and admitting he would "love" to get dirt from Moscow on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mr Donald Trump Jr was told by an interlocutor that he could get "very high level and sensitive information" that was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump".
Mr Trump Jr, 39, responded, "if it's what you say I love it", and set up a meeting with the source, according to the e-mails.
The e-mail chain, released in its entirety by Mr Trump Jr on his Twitter account shortly before The New York Times (NYT) published it, effectively confirms that he believed Moscow was behind the compromising information about Mrs Clinton that he hoped to receive at a meeting last year with a Kremlin- connected Russian lawyer.
The disclosure places the President's son at the centre of a burgeoning scandal involving multiple US investigations into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia last year in its covert efforts to tip the 2016 election to the Republican billionaire.
Mr Trump Jr initially dismissed the meeting he arranged with the Russian lawyer, Ms Natalia Veselnitskaya, as having to do with adoptions, but then offered shifting explanations as more details emerged.
In the e-mails released yesterday, Mr Rob Goldstone, a publicist close to the Trumps, tells Mr Trump Jr that he had learnt of a Russian offer of compromising material on Mrs Clinton from a pop singer he represented, Mr Emin Agalorov.
"The Crown Prosecutor of Russia met with (Mr Emin Agalorov's) father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father," Mr Goldstone wrote in an e-mail on June 3 last year.
"This is obviously very high-level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government support for Mr Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin," he added.
Mr Trump Jr responded less than 20 minutes later, according to the chain of e-mails titled "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential".
"Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," he said.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a mass effort to tilt the election in Mr Trump's favour, including hacking and leaking embarrassing e-mails from Democrats.
NYT reported that Mr Paul Manafort and Mr Jared Kushner, two of Mr Trump's most trusted campaign officials, also attended the meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya and Mr Trump Jr in June last year.
On Monday, the President's son confirmed reports that he was seeking compromising information on Mrs Clinton when he met Ms Veselnitskaya. "Obviously, I am the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear information about an opponent," he said sardonically in a tweet, claiming the meeting "went nowhere", but he "had to listen".
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Congress are investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential vote.
The meeting took place at a pivotal point in the 2016 campaign, after Mr Trump shocked Republicans with a string of primary victories and Mrs Clinton had all but secured the Democratic nomination.
"The President was not aware of and did not attend the meeting," Mr Mark Corallo, spokesman for Mr Trump's private lawyer, told Agence France-Presse.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS