CNN is reporting this evening that a top Trump aide and former campaign official, Rick Dearborn, has now become a focal point of the Trump-Russia investigation. He is said to have sent an email in June 2016 that referenced an effort to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the report, Dearborn, who is currently the President’s Deputy Chief Of Staff, sent the email in close proximity to the time of the meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. in Trump Tower attended by at least 8 people, including multiple Russians with ties to the Kremlin.
The email is said to have been unearthed by congressional investigators who are looking into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Neither Dearborn nor White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to requests for comment from CNN.
Prior to being named Deputy Chief Of Staff, Dearborn was part of the Trump transition team, and had also served as the Chief Of Staff for then-Senator Jeff Sessions, who is currently the Attorney General. Sessions has recused himself from the investigation. According to former CIA chief of Russian operations Steve Hall, it would be abnormal to have a meeting with Putin himself without having previously met with lower-ranking Russian operatives. There were numerous reports that Sessions may have met with a Russian official in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC when then-candidate Donald Trump gave a speech that was decidedly pro-Russia. Sessions has claimed that he does not recall such a meeting.
This news comes barely a week after a Washington Post report that key Trump foreign-policy adviser George Papadopolous also sent an email with the subject line “meeting with Russian Leadership – Including Putin” in the Spring of 2016. That email was said to have met with internal resistance within the campaign. However, barely three months later Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with the Russians under the auspices that the Russians would provide information damaging to Trump election opponent Hillary Clinton.