The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower last year is "clear evidence" the Trump campaign intended to collude with the Russians during the 2016 election.
"This is about as clear evidence as you could find about intent by the campaign to collude with the Russians, to get useful information from the Russians," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News.
Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, met with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at Trump Tower in June 2016 with hopes of getting damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
.@RepAdamSchiff to @jonkarl: "This is about as clear evidence you could find of intent by the campaign to collude with the Russians." pic.twitter.com/M95kdVWJZs— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) July 16, 2017
In emails between the president's eldest son and a British publicist, Rob Goldstone, who orchestrated the meeting, Trump Jr. told Goldstone "I love it" when told about the prospect about getting material that would be harmful to Clinton.
"If that's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," Trump Jr. wrote in a June 2016 email to Goldstone.
Goldstone also told Trump Jr. the information was part of the Russian government's efforts to aide Trump's candidacy.
Veselnitskaya failed to deliver material on Clinton, and Trump Jr. said conversation instead turned to repeal of a 2012 law, the Magnitsky Act, that sanctioned Russian human rights violators. Russian President Vladimir Putin stopped the adoption of Russian children by Americans as a response to the law.
Schiff, who is on the committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, said that email from Trump Jr. indicates the president's son was willing to accept information from the Russian government.
"Willingness not only to accept but to indicate to Russia what the best timing was," Schiff said. "Of course, Don Jr. said in the emails late summer, and what do we know about late summer? That's when the Russians start dumping this information."
"To accept the attorney's representation that no crime was committed here, you have to accept Don Jr.'s representations," Schiff continued, referencing comments Sunday by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow.
"If they went into the meeting and here they want something, they want information from the Russians, the Russians want something. They want repeal of the sanctions law, the Magnitsky Law. If any kind of understanding that comes out of that meeting, you get us the dirt, you start leaking dirt on Hillary Clinton, and we will look favorably on repealing the Magnitsky Act, that is a very serious crime."