CNN reports that investigators have discovered an email referencing a proposed meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The email was written by Rick Dearborn, who is now President Trump’s deputy chief of staff. Dearborn gave campaign officials information about an individual who wanted to establish a connection between Trump staff and Putin.
According to a source, Dearborn was skeptical about the idea. The individual who wanted to establish communication between Trump’s campaign and Russia was identified as “WV.” The source said that the individual may have had political connections in West Virginia. However, that is unconfirmed.
The email was sent in June 2016, around the same time that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort met Russians with Kremlin connections at Trump Tower.
Dearborn has not been a person of interest in the Russian investigation. However, investigators hope to learn if he played a role in arranging two meetings between then-Sen. Jeff Sessions and then-Russia Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. At the time Dearborn was Sen. Sessions’ chief of staff.
Sessions met Kislyak in July and September 2016. He did not initially disclose these meetings, but later acknowledged them. There is the possibility that Sessions and Kislyak had a third meeting during a Trump event at the Mayflower Hotel. Dearborn helped plan that event.
Although Dearborn was primarily employed by Sessions, he received a salary of $28,000 from the Trump campaign in 2016 for “policy consulting” and travel expenses.
Both Dearborn and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on the matter.
Intelligence experts say that the Dearborn email fits with the Russian strategy of seeking out unwilling or unwitting partners.
Steve Hall, retired CIA chief of Russian operations, said, “The Russians are really experts at this.”
By the time Dearborn sent his email, the Russians were actively interfering in the presidential election. They were spreading pro-Trump messaging and engaging in cyber attacks against the Democratic National Committee.
Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos had also sent an email similar to Dearborn’s back in March 2016. The subject heading was “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin,” according to a source.
Although Papadopoulos continued to press the idea in a series of emails, it was rejected by senior staff.