Rick Dearborn, who currently serves as the deputy chief of staff to President Donald Trump, reportedly received an email in June 2016 from a person attempting to set up a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, CNN reported Wednesday night, citing unnamed sources.
The unverified report claims Congressional investigators obtained an email sent to Dearborn, who was also the executive director of Trump’s transition to the White House, by a person identified as “WV,” initials that reportedly were in reference to West Virginia.
But other details about the email sender remain unclear, like the purpose of the meeting they were hoping to set up or if Dearborn complied—though CNN’s report did indicate that Dearborn, a Republican, was “skeptical” about the request.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined CNN’s request for comment on the email received by Dearborn, saying the message could be part of an intelligence leak.
“We aren’t going to comment on potentially leaked documents,” Sanders told the cable news network.
Before working on the Trump campaign as a policy aide, Dearborn served as chief of staff to former Alabama senator turned U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While there is no evidence Dearborn did anything nefarious, CNN’s report also states that investigators hope to establish whether Dearborn helped to arrange the two meetings Sessions had with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak; meetings that Sessions did not at first disclose during his Senate confirmation hearing for the Department of Justice’s top job and that led to his recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation.
Sessions denied any collusion with Russian officials on Trump’s election campaign during Senate testimony earlier this year but has since faced the president’s wrath for removing himself from the investigations.
The revelation of the email comes after Donald Trump Jr. admitted to setting up a meeting with a Russian lawyer and several other Russians also in June 2016, a meeting that was also attended by the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Trump Jr. at first said the meeting was related to adoption policy, but later released an email chain showing he hoped it would provide him with damaging information on his father’s former political campaign rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Before that, former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had also sent around emails in March 2016 suggesting that Trump meet with Russian officials to discuss relations between the two superpowers, The Washington Post reported earlier this month.