The New York Times is reporting that Donald Trump Jr. and other senior Trump officials met with a Kremlin-affiliated lawyer approximately two weeks after Donald Trump became the GOP’s presidential candidate for 2016.
Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Trump's then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower under the impression that she was in possession of damaging information on Donald Trump’s presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.
When confronted with the story Trump Jr. initially claimed the meeting with Veselnitskaya, a lawyer who has represented Russian state-owned businesses and the son of a senior Russian government official, was solely to discuss an adoption program between the US and Russia...
“It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.“I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
But after further reporting, the Times discovered that Trump Jr. had been promised the damaging information about Clinton before arranging the meeting.
When this bit of news broke Trump Jr. then released an entirely different statement...
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. 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. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.”
This makes two versions within a 24-hour period and in the second one Jr. all but admits that they went to the meeting expecting to receive the Clinton dirt but left when it was not forthcoming!
This 2016 meeting marks the first confirmed interaction between Trump’s inner circle and Russians during the presidential campaign.
In a Sunday statement to media organizations Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s outside legal team handling matters related to the Russia probes said that “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.” despite the fact that an Associated Press story from June 9, 2016, placed candidate Trump in the building that day.
Corallo has also stated that he believes that the meeting might have been a setup by "Russian nationals".
Kushner is already under investigation after failing to disclose his own meetings with Russian officials during Trump’s transition in December and Manafort is under investigation in Congress and by the FBI.
Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort are now part of a long list of Trump associates whom have lied about meeting with Russians that already included former advisers Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, Roger Stone, now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former national security adviser Michael Flynn who resigned in February after misleading administration officials about the extent of his own interactions with Russian officials.
It is unknown whether Veselnitskaya actually had damaging information about Clinton, the Times reported.
You can read the full Times article HERE.