U.S. President Donald Trump’s eldest son met with a Kremlin linked lawyer shortly after his father clinched the Republican nomination after being promised information on Hillary Clinton that he was told would be helpful for his father’s campaign, The Times reported on Sunday.
The meeting which took place in June 2016 at the Trump Tower in New York was attended by Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., his campaign chairman at that time, Paul J. Manafort, his son-in law Jared Kushner and the Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
“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,” Trump Jr. said in a statement. “I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.
“After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said “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,” he said.
He said Veselnitskaya then moved the conversation towards the adoption of Russian children and Magnitsky Law – an American law which blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The 2012 law so enraged the Russian President Vladimir V. Putin that he stopped allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.
“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,” said Trump Jr. in his statement.
“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,” he said.
His father knew nothing about the meeting, added Trump Jr.
The legal team of President Trump also said that he did not attend the meeting and was not aware of it.
Trump Jr.’s motivation for agreeing to the meeting “points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help” explained Times reporters Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman.