EXPLAIN THIS

Team Trump Knew Kremlin Had Clinton Dirt and Lied About Russian Hacking

Donald Jr. got an email saying Moscow wanted to hurt Hillary. That means he learned what it took American spies months to figure out: Putin wanted Trump to win.

President Donald Trump’s son got an email from a Russian friend saying the Kremlin's attorney general wanted to give the Trump campaign damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

"I love it," Trump responded before scheduling a meeting to get the information.

In other words, Donald Trump Jr. knew what it took the U.S. intelligence community months to publicly declare: Vladimir Putin’s government sought to elect Donald Trump.

Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort were similarly aware; they took the meeting set up by Trump Jr.’s friend Rob Goldstone.

"The timeline makes sense,” a Justice Department official told The Daily Beast. “The offer is after the [DNC] hack itself. They [the Russians] already had the stuff and were figuring out how to use it."

That means many of the denials by the Trump family and top campaign aides about Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign were lies. They knew the Kremlin wanted to give them a hand. They knew before just about anyone.

“It’s disgusting, it’s so phony. I can’t think of bigger lies,” Trump Jr. said in July 2016 when he was asked about the allegation Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee.

He got the email about Kremlin help in June.

Trump Jr.’s solicitation of information from Natalia Veselnitskaya may have violated campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing anything of value to a campaign, said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

“The question is would she be providing assistance that would be of value to a campaign,” Mariotti, a partner at Thompson and Coburn, told The Daily Beast. “If they did provide you something of value, it would potentially be a violation of the law.”

“He made a foolish choice by putting himself in that situation,” Mariotti said. “No one wants to be in a legal situation where you’ve potentially committed a violation of law.”

It’s now clear there were at least two Russian influence campaigns in the 2016 election: a campaign to influence public opinion, using hacked DNC emails, and a campaign to influence Trump and his inner circle.

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Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort in June 2016. Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak met or spoke with several members of the campaign throughout the year, culminating in several meetings with Kushner and Michael Flynn in December. Russian government officials were reportedly heard by the U.S. government musing about how to influence Flynn during the campaign and how to get Clinton’s emails to Flynn.

The Russian campaigns to influence the Trump team and the public were apparently conducted in tandem.

Trump became a safe bet to win the GOP nomination on March 16, 2016, "Super Tuesday II," after knocking Marco Rubio out of the race in Florida and gaining twice as many delegates as runner-up Ted Cruz.

Less than three days later, on March 19 at 4:34 a.m., an email landed in John Podesta’s inbox: “Someone has your password.” The chairman of Clinton’s campaign clicked a link he thought would safeguard his account. Instead, he unwittingly handed over its contents to agents of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.

This is the earliest-known evidence of the operation carried out by the Russian hacker crew nicknamed “Fancy Bear.”

In April, DCLeaks.com was registered through a web hosting firm in Romania. The site became a prefered dumping ground for Russian hackers, according to subsequent U.S. intelligence reports.

The modus operandi of the Russian public-influence operation was set: take emails from Democrats, select the most embarrassing or damaging ones, and publish them straight to the internet for all to see.

On May 26, Trump clinched the nomination by winning all the necessary delegates.

Within days of Clinton clinching the Democratic nomination on June 6, Rob Goldstone emailed Trump Jr. to say the Russians want to help Trump defeat her in November.

On June 9, Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner attended a meeting that promised dirt on Clinton.

It’s unclear if the information came from hacked emails, but three days later, Julian Assange announced he would publish new Clinton emails.

This was before the world learned that Russia had hacked the DNC, which was revealed on June 14.

In an apparent panic to cover his involvement, a Russian-created persona calling himself Guccifer 2.0 told TheSmokingGun.com that he’s a Romanian who hacked the DNC. Guccifer tried to prove his bona fides by giving several DNC documents to the website, including an opposition file on Trump.

A week later, on June 27, DNC files appeared on DCLeaks.

The leaks were titillating but tame, until the Democratic National Convention.

On July 22, three days before the convention started, WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 emails from the DNC. Among them were evidence that the DNC favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the primaries, which caused DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign.

On Aug. 8, Trump’s longtime friend and erstwhile adviser Roger Stone told a closed-door GOP event: “I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation.”

On Aug. 21, Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary

There were no Clinton Foundation emails in the DNC hack, only in the Podesta hack, which had not yet been publicly reported.

And just when it seemed Trump’s campaign was over in October, he got help from WikiLeaks. The Access Hollywood tape was published by The Washington Post on Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.

Thirty-two minutes later, WikiLeaks published the first Podesta emails.

Ever since Trump was inaugurated, there has been a cover-up around Russia but why? What was being covered up?

The answer may be the direct roles played by the president’s son and his son-in-law.