Trump Jr: ‘had to lis­ten’ to Rus­sian lawyer for Clin­ton in­for­ma­tion

Says fa­ther was un­aware of meet­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

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.

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