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Donald Trump Jr.'s emails send shock waves throughout Washington

  • Republicans and Democrats condemned Donald Trump Jr.'s email chain that he published on Twitter on Tuesday.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said he was not aware of the meeting between President Donald Trump's son and a Russian lawyer possibly linked to the Kremlin.
  • Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's former running mate, said investigations may move past obstruction of justice and into treason.

Donald Trump Jr.'s release of a chain of emails on Tuesday arranging a meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton sent shockwaves through Washington, as politicians on both sides of the aisle reacted.

Most notable was a statement on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence from his press secretary Marc Lotter.

"The Vice President is working every day to advance the President's agenda. He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focused on stories about the campaign — especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign," Lotter said.

Political lawyer Ronald Klain tweeted:

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina declared that the story about Trump Jr.'s emails was "the very thing we need to not be distracted by."

"We'll let the committees of jurisdiction and appropriate folks in the Department of Justice sort that out," Tillis said.

Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Trump Jr. needs to testify regarding the emails, and thought it was odd that a lawyer possibly linked to the Russian government knew nothing, as Trump Jr. asserts.

"Any time you're in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign the answer is 'no,'" Graham said.

GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, another member of the Senate Intelligence Committee which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, said he wants all the information about Russian involvement in the Trump campaign.

"Let's get to all the facts, let's get it all out at once," he said. "This constant drip drip drip, to be able to get one more piece from one more story of something doesn't help the White House, doesn't help our investigation. Let's get it all."

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R.-N.Y., weighed in:

Not surprisingly, Democrats voiced their concern in the wake of the release of the emails.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat and ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Trump Jr. "has made clear that his father's campaign was working with an adversary of the United States in order to defeat Hillary Clinton."

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, said in a statement that the U.S. has a "fundamental principle that a foreign adversary should not and cannot interfere" in elections.

"The soul of our very democracy depends on it," Cummings said. "I remind my colleagues from both parties — the Constitution does not give Congress the right to remain silent in the face of this threat. We must investigate. And we must act on our findings."

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia and Clinton's former running mate, went a step further. He told CNN the accusations are beyond obstruction or justice, and into "perjury, false statements and even potentially treason."

Trump Jr. said he released the emails "in order to be totally transparent" about the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. The New York Times, which first reported on the meeting, was set to report on details of the emails when Trump Jr. chose to release them.

"To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue," the younger Trump said. "As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was 'the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it.'"

Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on the emails.

President Donald Trump applauded his son's "transparency" in a Tuesday statement after the emails were released.

— CNBC's Angelica LaVito contributed to this report.

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