June marked the unofficial start of the general election
The meeting was scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in Donald Trump Jr.'s office
It wasn’t Donald Trump’s day.
June 9, 2016 – the day that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton – was a 24-hour period that the businessman-turned-presidential candidate likely hated: The spotlight wasn’t on him.
But more than a year after that unseasonably cool Thursday in New York, what happened on June 9 has intensified the spotlight on Trump – now president – and his family. News of the meeting between Natalia Veselnitskaya, billed in an email as a “Russian government attorney” and three of Trump’s top campaign aides has rocked the Trump White House and led Clinton’s vice presidential candidate, Sen. Tim Kaine, to speculate whether Trump Jr.’s behavior amounts to treason.
After months of grueling primaries, June marked the unofficial start of the general election and both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were starting to turn their focus on each other as the calendar turned to June 9.
General election begins
The day was a significant moment for Clinton: In a tweet to her followers at 1:50 p.m. ET, the former secretary of state announced that President Barack Obama endorsed her candidacy to succeed him in the White House.
Obama’s backing of Clinton was always assumed, but Trump quickly responded.
“Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary,” he wrote on Twitter at 2:22p ET. “He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!”
Clinton, in her most retweeted tweet of the entire campaign, responded to Trump: “Delete your account,” she wrote.
Trump’s retort took two hours: “How long did it take your staff of 823 people to think that up–and where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?”
The back-and-forth was a preview of the biting, negative campaign that two New Yorkers would wage in the coming months. But little did anyone know that Trump’s tweet about Clinton’s deleted emails came 40 minutes after his son’s meeting with Veselnitskaya was scheduled.
Trump’s attorneys and White House officials have said the President found out about his son’s meeting only days ago.
But on June 7, Trump teased on Twitter that he would deliver a “major speech” to discuss “all the things that have taken place with the Clintons.”
“I am going to give 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,” Trump said during a speech after winning the California, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and New Jersey primaries. “I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting. I wonder if the press will want to attend. Who knows?”
The speech was later moved to June 22 – due to the deadly terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando – but Trump called on Clinton’s deleted emails “to be found.”
“Should be able to be found because the government – I will say, I’ve always heard you can never really delete an email,” he said. “So it should be able to be found if they really want to find them, but I don’t think they want to find them.”
Trump campaign timeline
- 1:02 p.m.: Donald Trump leaves the Four Seasons, where he attended a Trump Victory Fund fundraising lunch. Trump returns to Trump Tower, where he remained for the rest of the afternoon.
- 2:18 p.m.: Paul Manafort leaves Four Seasons.
- 4 p.m.: Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Manafort meet with Russian lawyer at Trump Tower
- 4:40 p.m.: Trump responds to a Hillary Clinton tweet with a dig about her emails.