by Reuben Guttman, Founding Member, Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC
In this era of electronic information, a large part of what we do or think is recorded in real time through emails, tweets, cell phone photographs, videos and Facebook. If electronic information can be secured through document requests, subpoenas or civil investigative demands, there may be little more to learn from direct witness examination other than testing theories, authenticating records and getting a better sense of the personalities that are the subject of the investigation. While this was not the paradigm for the Watergate investigation of yesteryear – occurring at a time when there were no emails or even an internet – it is the paradigm for the current investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
And so, on June 11, 2017, Donald Trump Jr. released an email chain that Senate and Department of Justice investigators will undoubtedly learn about anyway. Why did he do it unprompted? Perhaps it was out of panic. Perhaps he thought that releasing some emails would cause investigators to refrain from seeking all of his emails through a subpoena. Or perhaps it was a manifestation of the self-destructive impulses that also prompt his father’s unpredictable conduct.
A review of the few emails that Mr. Trump Jr. disclosed allows us to envision how investigators might use them.