U.S. Investigators Uncover Email From Trump’s Top Aide Arranging Meeting With Putin During Election
According to a bombshell report just published by CNN, Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that revealed a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential election.
Citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter, CNN reports that Rick Dearborn, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin.
The person was only identified in the email as being from “WV,” which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request. One source said that the individual was believed to have had political connections in West Virginia, but details about the request and who initiated it remain vague.
The email occurred in June 2016 around the time of the recently revealed Trump Tower meeting where Russians with Kremlin ties met with the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner as well as then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, the sources said.
While many details around the Dearborn email are unclear, its existence suggests the Russians and the Trump campaign may have been willing partners as part of their effort to discredit — and ultimately defeat — Hillary Clinton.
Dearborn served as then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, as well as a top policy aide on the campaign. And investigators have questions about whether he played a role in potentially arranging two meetings that occurred between the then-Russia ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and Sessions.
Political Dig reported in May that Sessions failed to disclose meetings he had with Kislyak, at the Mayflower event that Dearborn apparently helped plan.
Sessions later told the Senate intelligence committee he didn’t remember meeting with or talking to Kislyak at the hotel. Kushner also helped organized the event, and he told congressional investigators earlier this summer that he briefly “shook hands” and “exchanged brief pleasantries” with Kislyak at a reception before Trump’s speech.
During the speech, Trump said that “an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia, from a position of strength, is possible.” Kislyak watched from his seat in the front row.
Shortly after Trump’s victory, Dearborn was named executive director of the Trump transition team, according to CNN. He was later appointed Trump’s deputy chief of staff for legislative, intergovernmental affairs and implementation, cementing his position in the White House as a senior policy aide.