Trump Jr. ad­mits he wanted info on Clin­ton

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Chad Day and Nekesa Mumbi Moody

WASHINGTON» A meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son and a Rus­sian lawyer dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign oc­curred at the be­hest of a Moscow-based pop singer with fam­ily ties to Trump’s busi­nesses, ac­cord­ing to a par­tic­i­pant in the talks. Don­ald Trump Jr. ac­knowl­edged Mon­day he made time for the meet­ing hop­ing to get in­for­ma­tion about Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the

meet­ing, and a re­port by The New York Times late Mon­day that Trump Jr. was told ahead of time that the source of the in­for­ma­tion was the Rus­sian govern­ment, fu­eled new ques­tions about the Trump cam­paign’s pos­si­ble ties to Moscow, which are be­ing scru­ti­nized by fed­eral and con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The Times re­ported that Trump Jr., who was a key cam­paign ad­viser to his fa­ther, was told the Rus­sian govern­ment was be­hind the in­for­ma­tion on Clin­ton in an email from music pub­li­cist Rob Gold­stone. The Times cited three un­named peo­ple with knowl­edge of the email.

The re­port is the first pub­lic word that Trump Jr. took the meet­ing with the un­der­stand­ing that he would be pre­sented with dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about his fa­ther’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent and that the ma­te­rial could have em­anated from the Krem­lin.

Gold­stone spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press ear­lier Mon­day to con­firm he had set up the meet­ing on be­half of his client, Emin Agalarov, but he did not dis­close the contents of the email de­scribed by The Times. Gold­stone did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to at­tempts to con­tact him Mon­day night.

In a state­ment, Trump Jr.’s New York-based at­tor­ney Alan Futer­fas called the Times re­port “much ado about noth­ing,” although he ac­knowl­edged his client had re­ceived an email from Gold­stone to set up a meet­ing with the pur­pose of pass­ing along dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on Clin­ton. His state­ment did not dis­pute the Times re­port on the email.

Futer­fas said Trump Jr. was not told the specifics of the in­for­ma­tion and noth­ing came of the meet­ing. “The bot­tom line is that Don Jr. did noth­ing wrong,” Futer­fas said in the state­ment, not­ing that the younger Trump hasn’t been con­tacted by any con­gres­sional com­mit­tees or spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s of­fice.

The White House re­ferred ques­tions to the pres­i­dent’s son. Mark Co­rallo, a spokesman for Pres­i­dent Trump’s out­side le­gal team, would not com­ment on The Times’ story, re­it­er­at­ing only that Trump “was not aware of and did not at­tend the meet­ing.”

Ear­lier on Mon­day, Trump Jr. tried to brush off the sig­nif­i­cance of the meet­ing, tweet­ing 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. also said on Twit­ter he was will­ing to work with the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, one of the pan­els prob­ing pos­si­ble cam­paign col­lu­sion, “to pass on what I know.”

Law­mak­ers on the com­mit­tee from both par­ties said they in­deed wanted to talk with the pres­i­dent’s son. Sen. Su­san Collins, RMaine, said the panel “needs to in­ter­view him and oth­ers who at­tended the meet­ing.” Sen. Ron Wy­den, D-Ore., agreed, say­ing, “Based on his own ad­mis­sions, this is an at­tempt at col­lu­sion.”

The se­quence of events that led to the June 2016 meet­ing high­lighted the tan­gled web of re­la­tion­ships that in­ves­ti­ga­tors now are sort­ing through.

The pres­i­dent’s son said the meet­ing was ar­ranged by an ac­quain­tance he knew through the 2013 Miss Uni­verse pageant Trump held in Moscow.

Trump Jr. ini­tially didn’t name the ac­quain­tance, but Gold­stone con­firmed he set up the meet­ing on be­half of Agalarov. Gold­stone said the Rus­sian lawyer, Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, stated that 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.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, said Mon­day the Krem­lin doesn’t know Ve­sel­nit­skaya and “can­not keep track” of ev­ery Rus­sian lawyer who holds meet­ings in Rus­sia or abroad. Although she has not been pub­licly linked with the Rus­sian govern­ment it­self, Ve­sel­nit­skaya rep­re­sented the son of a vice pres­i­dent of sta­te­owned Rus­sian Rail­ways in a New York money-laun­der­ing case set­tled in May be­fore a trial. A staff mem­ber at Ve­sel­nit­skaya’s firm said Mon­day she was un­avail­able for com­ment.

Dur­ing his visit to Moscow, Trump spent time with Agalarov, ap­pear­ing in a music video with him and sev­eral con­tes­tants in the pageant, which Trump owned at the time.

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