Trump Jr met Kremlin-linked lawyer who promised damaging info on Clinton during election
Donald Trump Jr. (R) makes remarks at a press conference during the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada February 28, 2017. Photograph: (Reuters)
President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr agreed to meet with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the 2016 campaign after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported on Sunday (July 9), citing three advisers to the White House, Reuters reports.
Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Trump won the Republican nomination, the Times reported.
The Times quoted a statement from Donald Trump Jr in which he acknowledged meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
"After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms Clinton," the Times quoted Donald Trump Jr as saying. Clinton was the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
The Times said Veselnitskaya then turned the conversation to the adoption of Russian children and a 2012 US law, known as the Magnitsky Act, blacklisting Russians linked to alleged human-rights abuses.
Vladimir Putin banned Americans from adopting Russian children because he was reportedly so outraged by Obama's passing of the Magnitsky Act. Putin also banned the former federal prosecutor, Indian-origin Preet Bharara, notorious for convicting Russian arms and drug dealers. Donald Trump originally asked Bharara to serve as a US attorney, then fired him in March.
Changing his version
Donald Trump Jr altered his version of the story Sunday night, after The New York Times, citing three White House advisors and two other people with knowledge of the meeting, stated that the purpose of the meeting was for damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr claimed the information Veselnitskaya provided "made no sense" and was not "meaningful".
Whether or not she produced any damaging information is not known, but she was expected to.
His full statement is here:
JUST IN: Donald Trump Jr. responds to reports that he met with Kremlin-linked lawyer during campaign pic.twitter.com/5mqRX38Wio— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 9, 2017
Three days after the meeting between Veselnitskaya and the Trump campaign, Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, the man the NSA, FBI and CIA claim with "high confidence" received hacked Clinton emails from Russian military intelligence, announced, "We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton...We have emails pending publication, that is correct."
Assange maintains he did not receive any material from the Russians.
The meeting between the Trump campaign and Veselnitskaya was not disclosed until Jared Kushner filed an updated request for national-security clearance, after it became known that in his earlier report he failed to disclose other contacts with Russian officials. Kushner claimed it was an error. The punishment for submitting a false report, or concealing information, can be imprisonment.
President Trump was "not aware of and did not attend" the meeting reported by the Times, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump's legal team, said in an emailed statement.
Here is a video of Donald Trump Jr on July 24, 2016, denying that Russia helped the Trump campaign by hacking the Democrats and releasing the emails.
FLASHBACK: Don Jr. July 24, 2016. On the Clinton campaign's claims that the Russians were helping Trump: "It's disgusitng. It's so phony." pic.twitter.com/BSut2RwbOs— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 10, 2017
(With agency inputs)