Congressional investigators are scrutinizing the emails of former Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn after unearthing an email that references an attempt to connect campaign officials with Vladimir Putin, CNN reports.
According to CNN, in June 2016, Dearborn—Trump’s deputy chief of staff—sent an email to campaign staffers about an individual referred to only as “WV,” who was reportedly seeking to arrange a meeting between Trump aides and the Russian president. Sources told CNN “WV” may be a reference to West Virginia, where the unnamed liaison might have “political connections.”
That exchange occurred around the same time Donald Trump Jr. agreed to a highly-scrutinized meeting between campaign officials and a Russian emissary who promised dirt on his father’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
As CNN reports, Dearborn was also involved in arranging Trump’s April 2016 speech at the Mayflower Hotel, attended by former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The news comes after a separate report that former Trump foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to set up a meeting between campaign aides and high-ranking Russian officials, including Putin.
“Russia has been eager to meet with Mr. Trump for some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss,” Papadopoulos said in an email to then-campaign chair Paul Manafort. Manafort is a subject in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign; Mueller has reportedly subpoenaed Manafort’s financial records in that probe.
Trump has repeatedly called the multiple Russia investigations a “witch hunt” and fake news, and has even sowed doubt about the intelligence community’s finding that the Kremlin tried to interfere in the 2016 election.
“The bottom line is that there’s no doubt in my mind that the Russian government was casting a wide net when they were looking at the American election,” retired CIA agent Steven L. Hall told the Washington Post of Papadopoulos’ attempts to set up a meeting between Trump officials and the Kremlin. “I think they were doing very basic intelligence work: Who’s out there? Who’s willing to play ball? And how can we use them?”