tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN July 11, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
separation, then they can use him to advance policy initiatives and what nautsz and that can keep the boat afloat in some way. i see it that way as well. >> thank you all. i appreciate it. thank you so much for watching. white house in crisis. jake tapper starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> good evening. this is a cnn special report. white house in crisis. breaking tonight. what an ally of the trump white house is calling a hurricane. the president's son, donald trump jr. trying to defend himself and explain what is arguably the most incriminating piece of public information into russian interference in the election squl there was any cuclusion between the trump team and the kremlin.
emails pre-emptively released by trump jr. just before they were about to be published by the new york times, he was offered damaging information about hillary clinton. it quote is part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump unquote. in a new interview tonight trump jr. siz he did not tell his father about a meeting with a russian lawyer. he claimed there was nothing to tell but the new york times is reporting that president trump was involved in the damage control about this story in recent days. signing off on his son's initial and incomplete account of his meeting with that russian lawyer. tonight cnn has learned that special counsel bob mueller is planning to investigate that meeting and that donald trump jr.'s email exchanges will be part of that as well.
the times is also reporting the emails were only discovered after jared kushner updated his security clearance form after initially failing to disclose his involvement in the meeting. we'll ask president trump's lawyer what mr. trump knew and when. recover -- we're covering this breaking story from every angle. let's begin with the breaking emails. between jared kushner and goldstone. goldstone spells out that the russians were offering quote official documents and informations that would incriminate hillary and her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father. it's part of russia and its
government's support mr. trump end quote. i can also send this info to your father via rhona, that's trump's personal assistant. and if it's what you say, i love it especially later in the summer. this evening donald trump jr. speaking out about the emails saying in retrospect he would have done things differently. let's listen just a few minutes ago. >> did you tell your father anything about this? >> no. it was such a nothing. there was nothing to tell. i mean i wouldn't have even remembered it except you start scouring through the stuff. >> did you ever meet with any other person from russia that you know? >> i don't know. i've probably met other people in russia. not in the form of a formalized
meeting because why would i? how busy we were, this was a courtesy to an acquaintance. >> our correspondence and analysts are here to help us analyze donald trump jr.'s interview. donald trump jr. stating unequivocally he did not tell his father about this meeting. is that credible to you? >> it's difficult to say right now. i know the panel has talked to his layier who's also said the same thing. we know this is a family who had a personal relationship with the trumps. the father was donald trump's partner in the miss universe contest in russia. >> the family that reached out through rob goldstone to donald trump jr.? >> exactly. >> rob goldstone's the intermediary here. don jr. didn't say what are you kidding?
clearly this is a familiar person. both the intermediary and the family to him. so it would seem to me if he got this kind of email he might have told his father. in fact rob goldstone said i wanted to send it to you first and don jr. never said don't pass it along to my father. but right now we have don jr.'s word and his attorney's word about this. so i think this is something the special counsel is going to have to get an answer to. >> and you spoke with donald trump jr.'s attorney this evening. >> he basically said his client didn't break any laws. the fbi has not reached out for an interview or documentation but said don would do so. don jr. would hand over anything that the fbi would like and said when it comes to these accusations he could have
violated campaign finance law, there is an allegation that the russian government wanted to hand over incriminating information. his argument was look we don't know what this was. we can't vouch for this email. are you telling me when someone reaches out saying you have incriminating information about your opponent, you hang up? he said it was all puffery for the woman to get in the door and talk about adoption. >> take a listen to donald trump jr. describing the email from goldstone. >> i didn't know if there was anything behind it. someone sent me an email. i read it. i responded accordingly and if there was something interesting there. i think it's pretty common. >> obviously i don't think -- i assume he didn't mean getting an email getting information from
the russian government is common. what is the response to what a lot of people who are in the national security field find a shocking admission. >> on the republican side it's been mixed. you have republicans who are dismissing it. i tried to ask if he had any concerns about this whatsoever and he said this is something the senate intelligence committee is going to investigate. you have people raising concerns like lindsey graham. it's not that common. you shouldn't be meeting with a foreign adversary during the middle of the campaign and others want more information. the senate judiciary chairman sending a letter to two senior trump officials tonight saying how did this russian lawyer get into the country? almost certainly this is going
to be part of the house and senate committee's investigations. asking for at least private testimony from don jr. who said in that fox interview he's willing to cooperate, testify under oath. as well as everybody else who set up that meeting. but the interesting thing was that at the press conference with adam schiff, who is not there? the republican leading the house intelligence committee. and the other person is burke. he said did not want to comment on don jr. but he said there were quote very early in this investigation. he doesn't want to get in front of it. one of the things adam schiff hypothesized earlier today was this might have been a trial run to see how interested the trump team might be were
they to be offered damaging information, that it's entirely possible that the meeting went exactly the way trump jr. and others say it did. but the point was to probe to find out would they be interested and this is exactly how russia would do this. through this family friend of the trumps. what are your sources in the national community saying? >> the cutout model is the way russia operates. if they're going to offer you something like this, they're not going to send somebody in a kgb uniform. many of the meetings that have taken place between trump aids and russians were not official russian intelligence officials. these were ticons, businessman, etc. like this lawyer who came innkeep in mind this is a powerful lawyer tied to the kremlin who is connected to rich people in russia.
the adoption issue rate which is the first explanation is always just talking about babies and so on. it's tied to the act which penalizes russians accused of committing crimes, human rights abuses. this is all tied to big picture issues. so, one -- this is the way russians do this kind of thing. this is the way russian intelligence operates. two, even if both issues were consequential, the idea of incriminating evidence, hay want to water down these sanctions. that's a consequential import. to have someone friendliar in the office, that's something they might raise. and the final thing is this is the first meeting of many meetings we have reported on and the intelligence committees on the hill and special counsel are
into. it was set up to present this information. now you have the special counsel and others. they have special meetings to look intootoo see what and why, what was discussed. why did kushner seek secret back channel with the russians. why did kushner meet with a connected russian banker in europe? see if you get similar evidence there was an attempted cooperation. >> he kept repeating that meeting was a waste of time. take a listen. >> if the meeting result said in information that you felt in any way was illegal or compromising or cutlugz use the media's term. >> i said it earlier 100%. i would bring it to the proper authorities. i think the reason we fought so
hard during this campaign. whether it was my father, the rest of my family and you know those efforts well. >> i guess i'm a little confused by the answer. to give donald trump jr. credit. he's been completely kandt, at loost in the last 24 hours that he wanted opo on hillary clinton. that he would love it. went there, expressed in the interview on fox earlier several times what a waste it was and how disappointed he was. he confirmed the russian lawyer's account to a degree when she said he kept asking where is the information? where is the information? i guess i don't fully understand what he would have reported to the authorities given he wanted opo. >> would it have been illegal
opo? something from the russians would be something one would think you would pick up the phone and call your counsel, say what do yob do about this? or should we report this to the fbi immediately because this is a country that doesn't have our best interest at heart and it's clear they say we have sensitive information as part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump. so when would he have reported something? i don't quite understand what he's saying there. i think he's speaking with hindsight, not as he felt that time. >> and you have reporting on how it came to be that this story even broke. you would think we would have learned about this a long time ago. why is the story being reported now? >> i think this is a significant part of the story and committees
on the hill will have a lot to look at, including this one and from our understanding the only reason it came to the attention of fbi investigators is because jared kushner six months after he filed his initial security clearance form, updated it, amended it with this meeting with don jr. and paul manafort because he's going to be testifying on capitol hill. so this was not something the fbi had on its radar up until late june when he put it on the security clearance form. and i think that can't be lost lin of this. i think investigators are particularly interested in jared kushner as well. what was he doing there? he is the one in the white house. don jr. is a private citizen now. and it does raise questions why wasn't this put on his security clearance form sooner. >> right.
and this came about as he was doing his review to get ready to testify before congress. now there has been a report, i believe in politico that paul manafort said he only read the first line that said kmacchange where the meeting was and i wouldn't be surprised if jared kushner said the same thing. especially jared who has an interim security clearance right now but has not been officially gotten a full security clearance yet and i'm assuming this is perhaps wrun of the reasons. >> manu, i want to play another built of the interview where donald trump jr. describes the meeting with this russian lawyer. >> let's go into the meeting. so you meet at trump tower. >> yes. >> the it meeting was described
earlier today on the "today" show. did she describe it accurately? >> fairly accurately. i was a little taken back by her talking about me pressing for the information. but the pretext was we have information. and there was small talk. sort of nonsensical and quickly went on to a story about russian adaups adoption and how we could help and that's where we shut it down. >> did you know what the mcginty act was? >> i'd never heard of it. >> she said that. >> we were all there. i was there listening as a courtesy to my acquaintance who had had set up the meeting. and you can hear what he said and you played it earlier about it. he apologized to me walking out of the meeting basically for
wasting my time. >> the act which was passed in 2012 overwhelmingly enables the u.s. to sanction human rights abusers in russia, people who have committed horrible crimes against people there. and according to a lot of russia experts, they are the sanctions vladimir putin hates the most. if this issue of adoption and the act was brought up, theoretically, this could be wrun of the things if this was in fact a meeting, one of the things they were probing for. congress is hawkish. on the issue of russia and russian sanctions. but right now there's a bill enabling -- keeping sanctions even tougher against russia and it's kind of in a little bit of limbo in the house.
>> even though it passed n unanimous unanimously. >> 90-2. >> you never see that in such a bad lay divided body. but the real concern is trump officials are raising concerns about a key provision that would essentially give congress the right to veto sanctions on russia. and they said to reporters earlier this week they view it as 535 members of congress who believe they have greater commander and chief authority than the commander and chief himself. there's push back from senate republicans. he said the white house is not reading that correctly but they are getting receptiveness from
those in the house republican conference. one reason why that's being held up but expect this pressure campaign to intensify in the coming days. >> an example of how many senate republicans and how some house republicans have a lot of concerns about president trump and his views on russia to say nothing about all this. everyone stick around. we're going to come back to you in a bit. i'm going to talk to one of the president's lawyers about one of president trump's response to the emails and maybe legal consequences. we'll have have a lot more ahead on this. ♪ [brother] any last words? [boy] karma, danny... ...karma!
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a few hours ago president trump sent his first tweet defending don jr. over today's release of the email chain, calling his son quote a great person who loves our country. joining me is a member of trump's legal team. just as a principal if somebody says he wants to set up a meeting with your campaign because a foreign government wants to give information about arrival to that campaign, is that okay to do? >> it's not illegal. we had a situation with the dnc and the ukrainians and the
ukrainian government was giving information about one of his campaign managers. >> it was a little different. nobody was meeting with any senior people of the clinton campaign. >> the lull wouldn't be any different. is there anything wrong with the meeting that took place here. it's not illegal. >> what about ethical? >> you're in the middle of a campaign. so opzisposition research is ve common. >> yeah, but not from russians. >> yeah, but, you look at the context. it's a meeting that ends up where they evidently, purportedly ends up not being the case, opposition research on hillary clinton. don jr. does the meeting, it's 20 minutes. nothing transpires. it's on the whole adoption issue. and you look at the reality of what you're dealing with and
what law has been violated here? >> if donald trump jr. had said to you i got this email the russians say they want to help my dad. they have damaging information on hillary clinton. what would you advise him to do? >> it's easy to look back and say if donald trump lawyers were saying what should we do, but that's not what this is. the campaign is taking place. they're getting hundreds, thousands of people having information and by the way, it's the same thing on the democratic side. this is not unique to donald trump's campaign, this is not unique to republicans. opposition research. let's not forget there was a whole dossier reportedly done on president trump that ended up being completely false. check where the money comes from on this. >> my understanding was originally it was paid for by republican opponents of president trump in the primary.
but that dossier. >> and then the fbi was going to buy it. >> but i don't know of any instance of that individual who did it handing it over to the clinton people. >> what happened here? did any information get handed over? nothing. here's the thing -- and i understand -- there's this whole russia thing. donald trump jr. today releases an entire email chain. >> pre-emptively because the new york times was about to. >> hillary clinton erases 33,000 emails. >> she shouldn't have done that. >> what's happening on snat. >> i believe the fbi did an investigation about that. >> and decided it was okay. >> you can talk to the fbi brout that. >> you have a meeting where nothing transpired. >> you're very good at the deflecting. but there was an fbi investigation. >> the law's the same.
>> i don't know what you're talking about. >> donald trump jr. released the email chain today, the complete email chain. you got it, everybody's got it. so hillary clinton erased 33,000. the irony of that -- >> it's not ironic and the reason donald trump jr. did it was because the new york times was about to publish it. donald trump jr. did what any good lawyer and maybe it was your advice for all i know -- >> i don't represent donald trump but released was fine. >> it escaped none of our attention that president trump has been very restrained in his twitter and public comments about this while his beloved son is in the middle of this and i'm not making light of this. it must be very tough. you have more than my son. so heres r's a question.
is he taking your advice and other lawyers around him, are you telling him don't tweet? >> first of all, i'm not going to tell you. it's privileged. here's what the president said today. he's supporting his son. you would do the same thing. i would do the same thing. nobody want to see their child going through this. the president's reaction, what he said is exactly what you or i would do. >> i'm not criticizing. >> donald trump jr. put it all out today. it's all out there. >> after several days of different stories. >> but there's a couple of key points. one, this is not a situation where the president was involved u did not attend. >> didn't know about this meeting until a couple of days ago? >> yes, i swear.
>> jared kushner and his son have this really weird experience. >> for how many minutes? >> 20 minutes. >> and how long did the russian lawyer say? 15/20 minutes. so you would have report what? nothing happened? you're not sitting in a room ---ing if they did that, they'd have meetings about meetings. >> i think you're down playing the oddity of the russian government saying they want to help us. the new york times is reporting this evening that the president's lawyer might resign, is threatening to resign over frustration with jared kushner because the feeling in the new york times story is that kushner might not be working with the president's team. >> let me be clear. that is categorically false.
i speak to my co counsel pretty much every day mark caswitz is the lead lawyer. but his firm is the lead on this case. there is no decension in the ranks. this is a completely false story. so i don't think i could be any clearer than that. >> you're including jared kushner? >> anybody. in a situation like this, there's multiple lawyers, different clients have different lawyers. >> no frustration. >> and there's cooperative arrangements. lawyers are working well together. you put a group of lawyers in the room, we work through issues. you work it out. you know the situation ultimately is? you make strategy decision and they accept it. so this idea that the caswitz
firm is out is completely false. >> and the new york times reporting that he signed off on the original statement that required a follow-up clarification because it didn't disclose. >> the statement was issued by donald trump jr., the president was on his return from the g 20. these are stories out there. but the fact is that's just not true. so again, the situation as it developed, donald trump jr. and he was very explicit and very clear. he issued a statement. his lawyers decided to issue the emails. i'd advise the same thing. and that's the fact. we can look at it and say a year ago in the middle of a campaign, would you, should you, could you? that's easy to say a year later but in the middle of a
campaign -- think about it. they're going 20 hours a day and this is 20 minutes and it's nothing. >> president trump was asked in february if he was aware of any conic tacts between any russians and anyone affiliated with the campaign. >> can you say whether you are aware whether anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with anyone -- >> so you're not aware of any contacts during the course of the it election? >> how many times do i have to answer this question. >> so it's true. not that i know of. because he didn't know of it. so is it fair to say that jared kushner, donald trump jr., and paul manafort put him as a disadvantage by not telling him about that meeting?
if you take out the not that i know of. >> you can't take out the not that i know of. >> but shouldn't they have told him? >> it's a 20-minute meeting out of a 18 or 20 hour-day. it produced no results, no knowledge of anything. it ends up being a false pretense and the meeting takes place. nothing happens. we walk in to the republican nominee's office. first of all, he's probably in another state. we had a meeting that didn't result in anything. why would you do that? when they're having hundreds of meetings. >> the washington post this evening also reporting it's quite tumultuous. a republican who is allied with the republican referring to it as a category 5 hurricane that some people are calling for reince priebus to step down. there's all sorts of
dissatisfaction and back fighting. >> thes oever the united states is dealing with issues that include a situation with north korea that we all know is quite serious. there are other situations and hot spots around the world. there is major action in syria. so the idea that this has consumed the white house is false. and you started and i understand you're starting it this way but the white house undersiege. they're operating and running the country. so if you want to agree with the policy, disagree, we live in america. so you can do that. >> last question and that is when did president trump find out about this meeting? the full story of the meet sng the emails -- >> you're talk very recently and i'm not going to give you the nature of the conversation. it was a conversation between the lawyer and the president
until recently. the situation started coming out over the weekend. >> that's when he found out. >> the president, by the way, never saw an email. did not see an email until it was seen today. >> the first time he saw the email was today? >> yes. >> appreciate it. donald trump jr. says the meeting with the russian lawyer was such a nothing. coming up will prosecutors see it that way as well? wll we all want restful sleep.
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not clear. and this is an unfolding investigation. it is not a crime to collude. that collusion is a big word but that's not a crime. >> more of a political term than a legal term. >> people talk about collusion as if it's a crime and it's not. the only possible crime i see coming out of this particular event involving donald jr. is possibly a campaign finance violation where it's unlawful to solicit any thing of value from a foreign government and perhaps, depending on what happened in this meetding and frankly, i don't necessarily credit don jr.'s description of this meeting since he's lies about so much already, whether he solicited aid from the
government. that's long shot but to answer your question simply no, i don't think there is any crime that has been uncovered specifically regarding this meeting. >> you think that the media and some democrats on capitol hill are a little breathless compaired to the facts. >> i think instead of analysis, we're seeing rage. people are willing to take criminal codes and twist them to bag a trump and that's a dangerous game to play. people suggesting this might be treason, which is facially ridiculous. >> i agree with that. and to be clear, senator tim kane said possibly this could be treason. >> and that destroys his credibility and the credibility of his party. >> well, i think that's ridiculous. >> to keep the definition of treason narrow because they don't want it to be used as a political tool, they don't want it to be used in this willy
nilly way. i don't see a viable federal election claim and jeff is right about that. but no court has taken information and said that is effectively a substitute for contributions and if they did, it would present a a huge threat to the first amendment. it would encompass an enormous amount of political speech just because they're receiving information from foreign sources like individuals. i don't think a court would sign off on that but that would be a particularly dangerous interpretation. >> there's the law, what's legal and what's not legal and what's right and not right. what mistakes do you think have been made in this episode? >> honest, earnest mistakes are
one thing and we're talking about a malignant presidency of the united states and the reason, at the core of the malignancy has been lying throughout the presidency by the president, now we see by his son. we see his son in law has also lied or not filled out his forms correctly. and has had to redakt them and change them twice. at this point the credibility of the president of the united states, members of his family and this is very much about his family and the mr. mueller is now focussed in part on trump businesses and the family and the way the businesses are run. what we need to do is let these investigations go forward. find out the facts. see whether or not the law has been violated by the president or those around him but meanwhile we have seen today the
knowing subversion by the son and son in law of the president of the united states when they took this meeting enthusiastically as it says in that email. i love it. donald trump jr. said. i'm paraphrasing a little bit. that is not about mistakes being made. that is about pursuing a kind of subversion we should never, ever forget about and it needs to be thoroughly investigated. >> it was jared kushner's legal team that initially found these emails which caused him to update his security clearance forms. give us some insight into how this might have unfolded from there. f for. >> first of all many of us have
filled out these forms and most of us write down even trivial meetings with foreign nationals. we look for anything that can cause further damage along the water line and this obviously came up in that review and they did notify that they had to amend. that's correct. now this does happen. you do have people that have omissions. it's usually not prosecuted. if it there's a pattern, it can become quite serious and the thing that gets people nailed in washington is false statements, it is -- this is a town filled with a-personality types that try to talk their way out of problems. it's that which usually the crime people get indicted with. >> and not first time we have
seen somebody from the trump team misrepresent a conversation with a russian national. i know i'm forgetting others. >> always russia. it's always russia. it's not sweden, it's not china. why are they not being for forthcoming about their relationships with russia. >> carter page. >> and here we now have this concrete example of an attempt to have the russian government influence the election through the trump campaign. do we think this is the only time it happened? i think one of the most interesting things about donald trump jr.'s reaction to the email is it's a nonreaction. what do you mean the russian government is trying to sell -- that might be a normal reaction. >> unfortunately that's all the time we have. in a moment our correspondents
welcome back. our correspondents and analysts are back to give us their final thoughts and look ahead to where the story might go from here. jim, let me start with you. where might the special counsel investigation and the senate and house intelligence committees their investigations go. >> i think this donald trump jr. meeting if he thinks a friend lid interview on hannity he's mistaken. certainly the special counsel will have far more questions to ask about this as will the house and senate intelligence committees. his explanation, for instance, that well, there was nothing useful there. is he saying had there been useful evidence that it would have been a worthwhile meeting? it raises a whole host of questions. that's just one meeting. there are many other meetings where hill investigators and the special counsel will have reasonable questions to see why did you meet, and what did you discuss. they'll have reasonable questions. there's also a lot of evidence they had have access to. meetings that took place in europe with russians may well
have been surveilled by u.s. intelligence or our partners there. there are transcripts whole host of evidence still to be mined on that. that's a very important thing going forward. this is one meeting we learned about today of several meetings, and there's much further for investigators to go. >> you know this puts to rest the question of whether the russians were trying to influence the election to help donald trump. i mean, i think senator warner said that today on the hill, man knew, and i think that we get in looking at what occurred a really a bird's eye view of just how they operate. and whether donald trump jr. was played or whether the intermediary was played or whatever, the russians were trying to get in in and see how far they could get into this trump campaign and lo and behold, this woman ends up with a meeting with three of the top people closest to the president -- to the candidate.
and i think that we're going to continue to peel the onion on there and see exactly how the russians operated. to try and help donald trump. >> and obviously, we're hearing a lot in the washington post and elsewhere about there being turmoil in the white house right now. manu raju, on capitol hill, how much does this story hurt the president's and the republican party's ability to get their agenda done? >> significantly because of the fact it is overshadowing everything. right now they're trying to pass a major health care bill in the senate and having a very difficult time doing that. they're getting no support from the white house. there's no messaging operation coming out of the white house. not a very different than in 2009, 2010 when they passed obamacare and the white house had a huge megaphone. the reason why there is not one right now is because the white house is mired in this controversy and is struggling to defend itself. president trump is going for a
third day tomorrow not having any public events. there is flow messaging operation. this is a real frustration right now talking to members who don't want to go out and criticize the president who are still tepidly behind him 37 their real concern he's causing so many distractions it's undercutting their one opportunity to get stuff done. >> and pamela, is this likely going to be all we hear about this meeting? these e-mails it that have been released and donald trump jr.'s and the lawyers word of it or do you think we'll hear more about this. >> when you think this could be it, more comes out. it's july, right? this investigation was opened up last july in the fbi. this has been going on for a year. it started off with looking at russia's meddling when it came to hacking the dnc server releasing information. i'm told simultaneously, the fbi noticed there were individuals connected to donald trump talking to russians. they wanted to figure out what's
going on over here. at some point, the two investigations converged and they wanted to look at possible coordination. there were indications there was possible coordination. but at that time, don junior wasn't even in the picture. jared kushner, the focus really was on paul manafort, michael flynn, carter page as we previously reported. they have all denied they've done anything wrong. it is amazing how this has unfolded and to gloria's point how we continue to peel back layers of the onion in this investigation. >> gloria, let's talk about the tumult that the "washington post" is reporting. is it considerable? >> yeah, look, i think you have people inside the white house now trying to figure out how to get back on track, how to get off the russia story. you have a president who is clearly concerned about his son, about how he's being represented. and about when this is going to end. this is a president who told james comey if you believe james
comey, go easy on michael flynn. all of these revelations that we are hearing about now make his conversations with james comey i think that much more important. >> very interesting. manu raju, pamela brown, gloria borger, jim sciutto and you at home, thanks for joining us. we'll have much more on this breaking story after this quick break. i'll see you again at 4:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow on "the lead." thanks for watching. here i am working my canister off to clean and shine and give proven protection against fading and aging. he won't use those copycat wipes. hi...doing anything later? ooh, the quiet type. i like that. armor all original protectant. it's easy to look good.
megan's smile is getting a lot because she uses act® mouthwash. act® strengthens enamel, protects teeth from harmful acids, and helps prevent cavities. go beyond brushing with act®. for the first time in the entire trump russia saga clarity with something that can't be spun as fake news. this doesn't come from unnamed sources or deep state leaks and nothing that can be described by other than what it is, simple words from a string of e-mail from donald trump jr. and a family acquaintance with something to offer. from the opening e-mail dated june 3rd of last year, some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary and would be very useful to your father from a music producer named rob gold stone passing on information he says is from a rus