Trump Jr: ‘had to listen’ to Russian lawyer for Clinton information
Says father was unaware of meeting
President Donald Trump’s eldest son acknowledged Monday that he met a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign to hear information about his father’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump Jr. tried to brush off the significance of meeting with a foreign lawyer who held out the possibility of dirt on an opponent in the U.S. election. He tweeted sarcastically, “Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent ... went nowhere but had to listen.’’
Trump Jr.’s acknowledgment came as a music publicist told The Associated Press that he set up the meeting on behalf of a client in Moscow named Emin Agalarov, the son of a Moscowbased developer who tried to partner with Trump in a hotel project.
On Monday, the publicist, Rob Goldstone, said in a statement that the Russian lawyer said she had information about purported illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee that she thought Trump Jr. might find helpful. Goldstone said Trump Jr. agreed to squeeze the meeting into a tight schedule.
Trump Jr.’s tweet is the latest addition to an explanation that has shifted since the meeting in June 2016 was first reported by The New York Times on Saturday.
Over the weekend, Trump Jr. initially omitted any mention of Clinton from his account of the meeting, saying Saturday that the discussion focused on a disbanded program that had allowed American adoptions of Russian children.
A day later, Trump Jr. acknowledged he was told beforehand that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, might have information “helpful’’ to the Trump campaign, and was told by her during the meeting that she had information about Clinton.
It appeared that Trump Jr. shifted his account of the meeting after being presented with additional information from The Times, which first reported both the discussion and the prospect of negative information about Clinton.
The Kremlin is disavowing knowledge of the Russian lawyer or of the meeting. Veselnitskaya represented the son of a vicepresident of state-owned Russian Railways in a New York moneylaundering case settled in May before a trial.
The meeting was the earliest known private one between key aides to the president and a Russian. Federal and congressional investigators are probing Russian meddling in the presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign co-ordinated with Russians. Trump calls the investigations a “hoax.’’
Jared Kushner, Trump’s sonin-law and now White House senior adviser, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting with Veselnitskaya.
The Times, citing advisers to the White House who were briefed on the discussion, said Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being promised damaging information about Clinton.