Russian willing to testify; Trump allies set
WASHINGTON — The Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s eldest son during the 2016 election campaign said she’s ready to testify before the U.S. Senate and “clarify the situation behind this mass hysteria.”
Donald Trump Jr. agreed to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya in the expectation of receiving incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s White House campaign, according to emails Trump Jr. has publicly released.
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday announced that Trump Jr. and Manafort will testify July 26 in its investigation into Russian meddling.
Also, a lawyer for Kushner said the adviser will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.
“As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations to Congress,” attorney Abbe Lowell said. “He will continue to cooperate and appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest.”
That meeting will be private.
The Trump Tower meeting raised new questions about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Moscow, which are being scrutinized by federal and congressional investigators. These questions have only intensified as the identities of other Russia-connected participants have become known.
“I am ready to clarify the situation behind the mass hysteria, but only through lawyers or testifying in the Senate,” Veselnitskaya said in an interview with Kremlin-funded RT television broadcast Wednesday.
“If the Senate wishes to hear the real story, I will be happy to speak up and share everything I wanted to tell Mr. Trump,” she added. That appeared to be a reference to Veselnitskaya’s previous statement that the meeting with Trump Jr. focused on U.S.-Russian adoption policies and a U.S. sanctions law.
Veselnitskaya has denied working for the Russian government. She has not responded to repeated attempts by The Associated Press to reach her for comment.
Congressional investigators in both parties have said they want to hear from those involved in the meeting. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, Mark Warner of Virginia, said Wednesday afternoon that the panel hasn’t yet invited Veselnitskaya to testify, but that he wants to hear from her and others who attended.
Warner said “it’s still being worked out” whether some of that committee’s more high-profile witnesses, including Trump Jr. and Manafort, should testify publicly or privately. The Senate and House intelligence panels conduct most of their interviews in private, but they occasionally hold open hearings.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing a law that oversees the registration of foreign agents. The panel has been investigating one of the participants at the meeting, Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer Rinat Akhmetshin, as part of its probe into the law.
The House Intelligence Committee is also investigating the Russian meddling.