Krem­lin: Un­aware of Rus­sian Lawyer's 2016 Con­tact with Trump Cam­paign

The Jewish Voice - - INTERNATIONAL - By: Ken Bre­de­meier

The Krem­lin says it is un­aware of a 2016 meet­ing be­tween U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's se­nior staff and a Rus­sian at­tor­ney who promised to pro­vide dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Trump's chal­lenger, Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the lawyer who met with the Trump team, Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, is not known to se­nior Rus­sian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. He dis­missed in­quiries about her, say­ing Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties "can­not keep track" of all Rus­sian lawyers and their con­tacts over­seas.

Trump's el­dest son, Don­ald Trump Jr., said Sun­day that he, Trump's for­mer cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort and Pres­i­dent Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, met with the Rus­sian lawyer in New York in June 2016, shortly af­ter Trump had clinched the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

'No mean­ing­ful in­for­ma­tion' emerged

Ve­sel­nit­skaya had said she would share in­for­ma­tion that could hurt Clin­ton's cam­paign. Trump's son failed to in­clude that de­tail when he orig­i­nally ac­knowl­edged meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer, but he ac­knowl­edged the po­lit­i­cal over­tone to the meet­ing in a clar­i­fy­ing state­ment on Sun­day.

How­ever, Trump Jr. said, "No de­tails or sup­port­ing in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided or even of­fered" dur­ing the brief con­ver­sa­tion with Ve­sel­nit­skaya, and "it quickly be­came clear that she had no mean­ing­ful in­for­ma­tion."

The younger Trump on Mon­day de­fended his meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer, say­ing it "went nowhere," but that he "had to lis­ten." White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said, "Don Jr. did not col­lude with any­one to in­flu­ence the elec­tion."

Sep­a­rate me­dia re­ports late Mon­day said Trump's son has re­tained le­gal coun­sel to rep­re­sent him in con­nec­tion with the Ve­sel­nit­skaya in­ci­dent.

Mu­sic pub­li­cist ar­ranged talks

Trump's son has said his father was un­aware of the meet­ing at Trump Tower, the cam­paign team's head­quar­ters last year. The pres­i­dent's lawyer also has said Trump him­self had no knowl­edge of the Rus­sian lawyer's con­tact with Manafort, Kush­ner and Trump Jr. at the time.

The get-to­gether was ar­ranged by mu­sic pub­li­cist Rob Gold­stone on be­half of a Moscow client, Azer­bai­jani singer-song­writer Emin Agalarov, who knew the fu­ture pres­i­dent through his 2013 pro­mo­tion of the Miss Uni­verse pageant in Moscow.

The New York Times first dis­closed the Rus­sian lawyer's meet­ing with the Trump team. Trump's son told the news­pa­per on Satur­day that the talks with Ve­sel­nit­skaya were about Moscow's ban on al­low­ing Amer­i­can cou­ples to adopt Rus­sian chil-

Trump Jr. said, "No de­tails or sup­port­ing in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided or even of­fered" dur­ing the brief con­ver­sa­tion with Ve­sel­nit­skaya, and "it quickly be­came clear that she had no mean­ing­ful in­for­ma­tion."

dren. On Sun­day, how­ever, af­ter The Times con­tacted him again, the younger Trump re­vised his com­ments to make clear that the Rus­sian lawyer had promised she had dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton.

The meet­ing with Ve­sel­nit­skaya is be­lieved to be the first known con­tact be­tween se­nior Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials and Rus­sian in­ter­ests in the midst of Trump's run for the White House that cul­mi­nated with his vic­tory over Clin­ton in No­vem­ber.

Ve­sel­nit­skaya is known for her at­tempts to un­der­cut the sanc­tions against Rus­sian hu­man-rights abusers, U.S. me­dia re­ports said. Her clients re­port­edly in­clude state-owned busi­nesses and the son of a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial whose com­pany was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the United States at the time of the meet­ing.

Pres­i­dent Trump is fac­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions about Rus­sian med­dling in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween his cam­paign and Rus­sian of­fi­cials. The U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity says Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin di­rected a cam­paign to dis­credit the U.S. elec­tion, dam­age Clin­ton and help Trump win, a claim he re­jected in a meet­ing with Trump last Fri­day at the G20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, Ger­many.

Nu­mer­ous con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der­way and Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller, a for­mer di­rec­tor of the Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, is con­duct­ing a probe of the Trump cam­paign links with Rus­sia and whether Trump pos­si­bly ob­structed jus­tice when he fired James Comey, the FBI di­rec­tor who was head­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore Mueller took over.

Trump has called the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tions a "witch hunt" and an ex­cuse by Democrats to ac­count for Clin­ton's loss. He has re­peat­edly de­nied hav­ing links to Rus­sia.

Nu­mer­ous con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der­way and Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller, a for­mer di­rec­tor of the Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, is con­duct­ing a probe of the Trump cam­paign links with Rus­sia and whether Trump pos­si­bly ob­structed jus­tice when he fired James Comey, the FBI di­rec­tor who was head­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore Mueller took over.

The get-to­gether was ar­ranged by mu­sic pub­li­cist Rob Gold­stone on be­half of a Moscow client, Azer­bai­jani singer-song­writer

Emin Agalarov, who knew the fu­ture pres­i­dent through his 2013 pro­mo­tion of the Miss Uni­verse pageant in Moscow.

The pres­i­dent's lawyer also has said Trump him­self had no knowl­edge of the Rus­sian lawyer's con­tact with Manafort, Kush­ner and Trump Jr. at the time.

In this photo taken on Nov. 8, 2016, Krem­lin-linked lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya speaks to a jour­nal­ist in Moscow.

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