Trump Jr. met Rus­sian lawyer dur­ing cam­paign

Son said he, Kush­ner promised in­for­ma­tion help­ful to fa­ther’s ef­fort

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man and Tom Ham­burger

Don­ald Trump Jr., the pres­i­dent’s old­est son, said in a state­ment Sun­day that a Rus­sian lawyer with whom he met in June 2016 claimed she could pro­vide him po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about his fa­ther’s Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

He said he had agreed to the meet­ing be­cause he was of­fered in­for­ma­tion that would be help­ful to his fa­ther’s cam­paign.

At the meet­ing, which also in­cluded Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kush­ner and Trump’s then-cam­paign chair­man Paul J. Manafort, the Rus­sian lawyer opened by say­ing she knew about Rus­sians fund­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and Clin­ton, the state­ment said.

Don­ald Jr. said her state­ments were “vague, am­bigu­ous and made no sense” and that she then changed the sub­ject to dis­cuss a pro­hi­bi­tion that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment placed on the adop­tion of Rus­sian chil­dren as re­tal­i­a­tion for sanc­tions im­posed by Congress in 2012.

Don­ald Jr. said his fa­ther “knew noth­ing of the meet­ing or these events” and there was no fur­ther con­tact with the woman af­ter the 20- to 30-minute ses­sion in June 2016.

The pres­i­dent’s son did not dis­close the dis­cus­sion when the meet­ing was first made pub­lic by The New York Times on Satur­day and did so only Sun­day as The Times pre­pared to re­port that he had been of­fered in­for­ma­tion on Clin­ton at the ses­sion.

The meet­ing seems likely to be­come a fo­cus of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into whether the Trump cam­paign co­or­di­nated and en­cour­aged Rus­sian ef­forts to in­ter­vene in the elec­tion to hurt Clin­ton and elect Trump. Hack­ers be­gan leak­ing emails stolen from the Demo­cratic Party in July 2016, and U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have said the ef­fort was or­ches­trated by Rus­sia to help elect Trump.

Trump of­fi­cials have vig­or­ously de­nied they col­luded with Rus­sia in any way.

In his state­ment, Don­ald Jr. said he did not know the lawyer’s name, Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, be­fore at­tend­ing the meet­ing at the re­quest of an ac­quain­tance. He said that af­ter pleas­antries were ex­changed, the woman told him that “she had in­for­ma­tion that in­di­vid­u­als con­nected to Rus­sia were fund­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and sup­port­ing Ms. Clin­ton.”

“No de­tails or sup­port­ing in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided or even of­fered. It quickly be­came clear that she had no mean­ing­ful in­for­ma­tion,” he said, as­sert­ing that he con­cluded that claims of help­ful in­for­ma­tion for the cam­paign had been a “pre­text” for set­ting up the meet­ing.

Mark Co­rallo, a spokesman for Trump’s lawyer, said Trump was un­aware of the meet­ing and did not at­tend it.

Nei­ther Manafort or his spokesman re­sponded to re­quest for com­ment Sun­day evening.

Kush­ner’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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