Tags: michael hayden donald trump jr. | willingness | meet | game-changing

Michael Hayden: Trump Jr. Willingness to Meet 'Game-Changing'

Image: Michael Hayden: Trump Jr. Willingness to Meet 'Game-Changing'
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By    |   Wednesday, 12 Jul 2017 12:32 PM

The core issue behind Donald Trump Jr.'s email exchange concerning meeting with a person identified as a Russian government operative is that he agreed to accept the meeting at all, former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said Wednesday.

"What's core is what's in the e-mail in black and white, that the Trump campaign at the very highest levels, people related to the president at the highest levels, agreed to accept a meeting from what they agreed to be a representative of the Russian government who is volunteering their support to try to get Donald Trump elected president of the United States," Hayden told CNN's "New Day" program. "That's very clear, and frankly I think that's a game-changing exchange in that e-mail chain."

The president's son Tuesday released a chain of emails that said the Russian government backed his father's presidential campaign and was trying to damage his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The information was sent by Rob Goldstone, a former British tabloid journalist and marketing executive linked to Trump through the Miss Universe Pageant, who said he could broker a meeting with the attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Trump Jr. posted the entire correspondence through his Twitter account on Tuesday, after a series of reports on the meeting by The New York Times and others, and before the chain could be released through the media.

The emails fall into a different category than other information, said Hayden, as it "provides linkage" into Russia's activities during the presidential election.

"The overall American intelligence community, with a high confidence in judgment, [says] the Russians interfered in the American election," Hayden said. "We've got a lot of work to do to prevent them from happening again and I fear that the current administration isn't putting enough energy into that."

While it's not been established that a crime was committed, he continued, the email chain shows an "expressed willingness on the part of the Trump campaign to cooperate with what the Russians were doing."

Hayden said he also rejects Russia's denials on the matter.

"I come back to my core point," he said. "It really doesn't matter what you had in the email. It was an expression that was accepted by the Trump campaign and then a willingness to have the meeting."

Hayden also said his instincts lead him to believe that the contacts were part of a "sustained, well-orchestrated, synchronized effort on the part of the Russian Federation to infiltrate and affect the American electoral process."

He said he also finds it disappointing that Trump seems to be resisting his own intelligence chiefs on the matter.

"I don't think we've got enough energy on that track here, not the criminal track, but the counterintelligence track. What happened, why —​ how can we prevent this from happening again?," said Hayden. "The American account, the American account of the meeting in Hamburg between President Trump and President Vladimir Putin has President Trump beginning the meeting with, I've got to get this behind us, did you do this is what he said to Vladimir Putin."

However, said Hayden, "we know they did this," but Trump turned the conversation into a discussion whether there was enough evidence to hold Russia to account.

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The core issue behind Donald Trump Jr.'s email exchange concerning meeting with a person identified as a Russian government operative is that he agreed to accept the meeting at all, former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said Wednesday.
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Wednesday, 12 Jul 2017 12:32 PM
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