The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., on Monday dismissed a new report on his meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“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,” he tweeted.
The tweet confirmed a New York Times report over the weekend that, according to the paper’s sources, Natalia Veselnitskaya, an attorney with connections to the Kremlin, offered to give Trump Jr. compromising information on his father’s opponent in the U.S. election.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the attorney followed through with the damaging information during the reported meeting at Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016.
Paul J. Manafort, who at the time was the chairman of Donald Trump’s election campaign, also attended the meeting, as did Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who represents the son of a wealthy Russian developer, claimed responsibility for arranging the meeting. He told several news outlets, including the Associated Press, that one of his clients, Azerbaijani-Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov, requested the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya.
Goldstone said Trump Jr. agreed to fit the meeting into his busy schedule after learning that the Russian lawyer had information about illegal campaign contributions to the DNC.
The Hill reported later Monday that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called for the Senate Intelligence Committee to interview Trump Jr. and others who attended the meeting.
Trump Jr. shared that story on Twitter with the response, “Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know.”
An initial report from the Times appeared Saturday without any references to Veselnitskaya’s apparent information on Clinton. Afterward, Trump Jr. released a statement saying that they discussed a program on the adoption of Russian children.
“It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up. …
I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
The Times followed up the next day with a report on how the meeting was arranged under the pretext of providing compromising information on Clinton. This compelled Trump Jr. to release yet another statement explaining his reason for going to the meeting.
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.”
He continued: “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
Critics pounced on what they considered inconsistency in his statements. But Trump Jr. struck back, saying that his first statement still stands and that he was merely offering more information.
“No inconsistency in statements, meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q’s I simply provided more details,” he said.
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