Some Possibilities on the Emails Hope Hicks Wanted to Withhold

Remember this story about how Hope Hicks told Mark Corallo in a conference call on July 9, 2017 that they didn’t have to be fully forthcoming about the purpose of the meeting because the emails would never come out?

In Mr. Corallo’s account — which he provided contemporaneously to three colleagues who later gave it to The Times — he told both Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks that the statement drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire because documents would eventually surface showing that the meeting had been set up for the Trump campaign to get political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians.

According to his account, Ms. Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out” because only a few people had access to them. Mr. Corallo, who worked as a Justice Department spokesman during the George W. Bush administration, told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said — either she was being naïve or was suggesting that the emails could be withheld from investigators — but also that she had said it in front of the president without a lawyer on the phone and that the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

At the time, I suggested something didn’t make sense about the story, given the facts we knew at the time, because the NYT already had (what we assume to be) the set of emails that got released.

[T]he NYT admits that even as (or shortly after) that meeting transpired it already had the emails Don Jr released that day and was going to publish them itself.

I suggested at the time that there might be other emails — perhaps between Don Jr and Rob Goldstone, perhaps between other players — that provided more damning information.

But there’s another possibility: that more emails exist, between Don Jr and Rob Goldstone (indeed, we know Goldstone sent follow-up emails involving Vkontakte). Or that there are communications between other players. In which case the release of the current emails might serve to distract from a fuller set that Hicks did succeed in burying.

Given the materials released to SJC — and when they were released — we can be sure there were other emails, and at least some of them have come out.

A return email to Paul Manafort

I’ve already noted one example, or at least part of one example. The Don Jr production turned over by the Trump Organization withheld the version of the original invite letter that includes a response from Paul Manafort.

Of particular interest, however, is a detail revealed about the email that Don Jr released last summer. Effectively, the email thread setting up the meeting appears in two places in the exhibits introduced with Don Jr’s testimony. The thread appearing at PDF 26 to 29 is for all intents and purposes the set he released over two tweets last July 11. That bears Bates stamp DJTJR 485 to 487, which designates that it was the version that Don Jr himself turned over. There’s another version of that thread, though, bearing Bates stamp DJTFP 11895 to 11897, which appears at PDF 1 to 3 in Don Jr’s exhibits (and is used for all the other witnesses). The Bates stamp abbreviation DJTFP, Donald J Trump for President, indicates that that’s the version turned over by the campaign. The exhibit shows the same thread, only with this addition.

That is, after Don Jr informed Jared and Paul Manafort that the meeting would be at 4 instead of 3, Manafort responded, “See you then.”

That — and the fact that Don Jr chose to suppress it when publicly releasing his email — is not by itself damning.

Jared wasn’t copied on the Manafort response, so he couldn’t have turned over the Manafort response (and it wouldn’t have been in the copy leaked to the NYT, if he did the leaking, as suggested by Michael Wolff’s book). Nevertheless by the time Don Jr testified on September 7, SJC had both copies.

Manafort’s awareness of the meeting might be damning by itself, because he spoke with Don Jr and met with Trump on June 7, the day Trump announced the campaign would soon be making a “a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.”

But it’s possible Manafort’s response wasn’t the last in the thread. Perhaps Don Jr wrote back and said something like, “with the dirt Emin promised we’ll really take out this bitch” or something similarly dignified.

The emails showing Agalarov involvement

As I mentioned in this thread, Goldstone did not fully cooperate with SJC. In the first round he left out a lot of stuff that was responsive to SJC’s request and he never provided phone records; in his later production, two voice mails from Emin appear to be truncated. But in February of 2018 (probably after at least one interview with Mueller’s team), his lawyer provided more documents not produced in the first go-around. Among other things, those materials included more details on Emin’s involvement in crafting a statement, and Kaveladze’s role running everything. Of particular interest, many of these materials would show direct communications between the Agalarov camp and Trump Organization lawyers as they crafted their statement.

The draft statement from July 6

Finally, when considering the possibility that parties withheld damning records, consider this email between Goldstone and Don Jr’s lawyer.

It shows that by the time Goldstone (and Emin and Kaveladze) had some phone calls with Alan Garten and Alan Futerfas at the end of June, the Trump folks already had a statement. When Goldstone gets off his cruise in Greece on July 6, he immediately contacts the Trump camp and asks if that statement has been released.

There’s no record of a response to Goldstone from the Trump camp for several days (though they were on the phone with Kaveladze), until when, on July 9, someone (Goldstone believes it’s the Trump camp) leaked his name. That’s when communications resumed, starting with a Trump request that Goldstone attest that the misleading Don Jr statement they subsequently released is 100% true.

Still, the communication on July 6 is damning enough, because it makes it clear that before Trump is known to have been involved, before Trump spoke to Putin, the Trump camp had what it presented as a finalized statement.

Now imagine if either Goldstone or someone else has a hard copy of that statement and it qualitatively deviates from the existing story?

One notable detail. As noted, Goldstone provided these materials after the NYT story at question here, and after Mark Corallo said he’d testify about Hope Hicks’ obstruction; it possibly took place after the Corallo testimony itself. Goldstone testified to SJC a second time on March 29, not long after Mueller subpoenaed the Trump organization — a subpoena that almost certainly would obtain new copies of the documents at least pointed to if not turned over by others.

All of which is to say that there are numerous emails that have been identified since Don Jr testified that appear not to have been turned over in his production, not to mention any Manafort communications he suppressed.

As I’m still working on showing, there was a tremendous degree of coordination going on in that period. And yet, perhaps in spite of that, some of the key documents didn’t get turned over.

Update: Here’s a version of the document requests to the Trump’s. Any of the emails between the Trump lawyers and Kaveladze or Goldstone would have been responsive. Here is what Jared got (remember, the committee complained that he hadn’t provided everything). And here is what Kaveladze and what Goldstone got. I can see Goldstone arguing the follow-up — and the discussions about earlier Agalarov/Trump meetings — didn’t fit the criteria laid out.

20 replies
  1. Mitch Neher says:

    Is there any chance that the emails that were not produced refer to the Magnitsky sanctions relief that the Russian’s had pitched at the Trump Tower meeting? Would the attendees at that meeting have understood to avoid emailing one another with any specific or explicit terms on that topic? Given that the attendees eventually admitted their discussion of the Magnitsky sanctions, wouldn’t they have had to have communicated to one another ahead of time the circumstances and conditions under which they might have to admit what they had discussed and exactly how much to admit or withhold or deny?

    • bmaz says:

      Given every fact in the post, and the cites therein, not to mention that every later discovered action by Team Trump turns out to be worse, not better, than originally considered, would you make these suggestions? Why? I’ll be waiting.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        When I used the phrase “emails not produced,” I was thinking about email exchanges in 2017, a year after the Trump Tower meeting, when the story first broke in the press. I did not intend to refer to emails exchanged in 2016 before the Trump Tower meeting. Having reread what I wrote in light of your question, I can clearly see that my question did not ask what I intended to ask. I apologize for that.

        As for my motives, I’m eager for Mueller to make the strongest possible case against the Trump campaign.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “[E]venutally admitted their discussion of the Magnitsky sanctions”?

      “[E]xactly how much to admit or withhold or deny”?

      The first expresses credulousness about the topic discussed.  The second is an admission that the principals lied and obstructed to hide the topics discussed.

      If the topic were about Magnitsky, the meeting would never have happened. If it had, there would have been no need for the elaborate and elaborately constructed coordination and cover story.

      A June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, a few doors from the Don’s official offices and campaign headquarters, with top Trump campaign officials and Russian representatives would not have been held were it not campaign related.  Already released e-mails tell us it was campaign related, the topic was dirt on Hillary, and the dirt came from a foreign source.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        EoH said, “If the topic were about Magnitsky, the meeting would never have happened.”

        IMO, that’s exactly what the Trump campaign wants us to think. They admitted that the Russians discussed the Magnitsky Act to bolster the Trump campaign’s claim that nothing illegal happened at the Trump Tower meeting. What’s more, I think the Trump campaign and the Russians agreed upon admitting the discussion of the Magnitsky Act if, or when, the first cover story about “adoptions” didn’t fool anyone.

        I apologize for failing to state my assumptions in the questions I posed. Too often I’m the only one who knows what I’m talking about. Perhaps I’ll learn from the constructive criticism.


    • orionATL says:

      if the question is : did the americans at the july 9, 2016 meeting have a prior expectation of a discussion of sanctions against russia such as magnitsky sanctions (with its russian response of banning russian orphan adoption by americans), i think the answer, so far, is “no”. after the meeting they expressed annoyance that the topic was ever brought up. maybe some docs will turn up later. if they do, ew is sure to spot them.

      the way i look at russian communications to americans at that meeting is that there were two streams of communication by two russian teams.

      the two teams were the aras agalarov team (goldstone and ike kaveladze) and the denis katsyv team (veselnitskya, rinat akmeteshin, and transltr).

      the agalarov team explicitly communicated with don jr about dirt on hilllary thru goldstone.

      by their presence and their presentation on matters of the magnitsky global sanctions to americans high in the trump campaign heirarchy, the katsyv team implicitly communicated that dirt on hillary carried the price of sanctions relief for russia from a trump administration.

      in my view, this was a clear quid pro quo package presented to the americans.

      president trump understands this. i am confident that is why he demanded at the – g-7 economic conference this week that russia be re-admitted to the elite g-7/8 economic group from which it had been banned for its adventures in the crimea. the american allies are outraged at his suggestion given russian mischief making in europe over the last 6 years and the assault on nato. why would an american president do this?

      • orionATL says:

        obviously this is highly choreographed communication and deal making.

        there is no reason at all to think that aras agalarov himself has any dirt on hillary or has any interest in finding any. agalarov were seconded (by whom :) ) to this job because he and his son have a personal acquaintanceship with the trump family thru the 2013 miss universe comraderie.

        the katsyv team is there to communicate the message i mentioned above, but their presence, if questioned, can be justified by the fact that they have been lobbying openly in the u. s. against the magnitsky sanctions. they too were probably drafted into the deal making meeting on july 9.

        art of the deal, eh? who got taken to the cleaners and is now being effectively blackmailed? prevented by the faustian bargin he made from representing and protecting the full range of american (or european) security interests against the weak but malevolent russian state.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There’s also that the meeting was on June 9th.  But I agree that Trump is the world’s worst deal maker and about the high and enduring choreography. 

        Trump’s top campaign staff and the Russians are going to great lengths to avoid admitting to federal prosecutors what the meeting and actions before and after were about.  Sure looks like guilty knowledge to me.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think you mean to write this, would any emails not produced refer to dealing dirt.

      And the response would be, in fact, some of the ones released (by Kaveladze) do. A huge number of comms that got released also refer to Magnitsky, but that’s retrospectively as they’re trying to craft a less damning statement.

      • orionATL says:


        i was trying to answer mitch neher’s question which i thought could be summarized as: did any american at the july 9 meeting have reason to expect beforehand that magnitsky would be a topic of the meeting, i. e., were there any docs stating this? my answer was: i don’t think so.

        i then suggested a way to look at the meeting consistent with spook behavior – a “silent”, implied, easily-denied communication about what would be expected by the russians in return if they gave the americans the dirt on hillary they wanted, to wit, veselnetskaya’s presentation on orphans and magnitsky.

        with this kind of deal, i would not have expected any written communication on this side of the ledger.

        • orionATL says:

          skipping ahead several steps in consideration of trump’s proposal this week to include russian back into a g-8, in terms of trump meeting any obligation to putin arising out of hillary dirt, it is possible that at their hour-long tete-a-tete at the july 2017 g-20 meeting trump and putin not only chatted about orphans, but also about lifting another sanction by including russia back into the g-7/8. this chat would have taken place about a week after the july 9 meeting story broke in the u. s.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        emptywheel said, ” A huge number of comms that got released also refer to Magnitsky, but that’s retrospectively as they’re trying to craft a less damning statement.”

        You’re very generous. My questions were poorly written. Comms referring to Magnitsky a year after the Trump Tower meeting was what I really meant to ask about. In the future I’ll take more time before I click the post comment button. Sorry for yesterday’s post.


        • emptywheel says:

          I’m still working on a few posts that talk about the reconstruction of the story they did. It’s been tough sledding but hopefully in the next day or so.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “wouldn’t they have had to have communicated to one another ahead of time the circumstances and conditions under which they might have to admit what they had discussed and exactly how much to admit or withhold or deny?”

      Ahead of time? Doubtful. They were thinking everything was cool, and no need to worry about legal implications.

      This is how they [don’t] think.

  2. Trip says:

    There’s always the possibility of cut-out Cohen, too? The thinking may have been that it represented attny/client privilege. Trump seems more freaked out about Cohen than any other actors in the campaign.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Keith Davidson may be his biggest issue. If he flips….

      Stormy Daniels’ ex-lawyer Keith Davidson sues Trump attorney Michael Cohen, claiming ‘illegal’ recording of phone calls

      [But, this lawsuit may just be all about delay. Cohen could definitely record in New York. Davidson in California, no. Maybe he is not really up on different State laws]

      [FBI knows the facts on this, obviously. Plus they have the recordings now due to raid. And apparently, Davidson was raided same day as Cohen. As Avenatti said, this will get ugly]

      • Rugger9 says:

        I’m  not sure Davidson would be the “biggest” issue or problem, given the company that Michael Cohen keeps, but he’s one that could get any law license yanked.  I’m sure Davidson would do the appropriate calculation and decide Cohen’s not worth any more risk to his own Bar standing since I’m quite certain that Avenatti has made a referral to the CA Bar (at least) as part of his proposed remedies.  If Davidson sings he might just be suspended as opposed to revoked if he digs in.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Ahhh, this clarifies things. From the Goldstone transcript, when he was asked about “the statement” (p.22):

    “I believe it was a statement that — I think the colleague I’m referring to was probably Mr. Futerfas who read to me, and it was going to be a statement from, I believe, Don, Jr. But I’m really not a hundred percent certain at this stage.”

    That conversation was on June 26th, per the transcript. And the exchange on pp. 24-5 is useful here.

    So Futerfas and Garten were already working up a statement in late June after an earlier outreach to Goldstone that month, but we don’t know exactly how that interacted with the approach to Circa. (Though perhaps EW has some thoughts on that division of labour.)

  4. Viget says:

    Sorry to bother all of you if this is obvious, but I just noticed that in the Manafort email posted above, there  is a lot of redacted space after the “From:Paul Manafort” line.  Since an email can only originate from one email account, what exactly is the black box redacting.  I Print previewed my emails from Outlook (which clearly is the program being used) and I can’t possibly see what could be under that box…..

    Any thoughts?   And sorry if this has already been discussed in a previous thread.

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