The president’s son now admits he met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign seeking information to use against his father’s opponent, and not to discuss international adoptions.
In fact, Kremlin cat’s paw Natalia Veselnitskaya raised the adoptions issue in order to lobby against US sanctions on Russia when she met with Donald Trump, Jr.
The admission is the latest evidence that major figures within the Trump campaign sought to collude with agents of Russian influence during the campaign.
In his statement, Don Jr. literally admits to trying to collude with Russia against Clinton, but was only unsuccessful because he was duped.
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) July 9, 2017
As the New York Times reports, the president’s son has revised his explanation of the meeting since yesterday, when it was first confirmed.
In a statement on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “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.”
He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.
“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Mr. Trump said.
When he was first asked about the meeting on Saturday, he said only that it was primarily about adoptions and mentioned nothing about Mrs. Clinton.
Her line of discussion should not have been a surprise. Ms. Veselnitskaya is a foremost opponent of the Magnitsky Act, which Congress first enacted to punish Russia and the Russian mob for a massive, state-sponsored fraud. There’s no way that Donald Jr. did not know this about her when they met.
We deserve to know the identity of the “acquaintance” who wanted this person in the same room with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. And we need to know more about what was said in the meeting, because just yesterday Donald Jr. said nothing at all about digging for Clinton oppo research.
Can’t wait for Donald Jr. & Donald Sr. to denounce NYT story as “fake news”–after Don Jr. didn’t tell the full truth about the meeting.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) July 9, 2017
“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,” he said yesterday.
It’s not hard to understand why he would hesitate to admit that he was digging for dirt. This is now the second confirmed instance of major figures in the Trump campaign actively trying to collude with the Kremlin to win an election. Whether or not they succeeded in colluding, they clearly wanted to, and that means there will definitely be more news to follow.
So Don Jr. is openly admitting his father’s campaign was willing to accept help from the Russians to damage HRC. Seems pretty big.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) July 9, 2017
Only ten days ago, we learned that Trump senior campaign adviser Michael Flynn took part in an outside effort by conservative activist Peter Smith to ask Russian hackers for any emails they may have stolen from Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, campaign CEO Steve Bannon, and a campaign strategist named Sam Clovis are also implicated in the scheme.
There are so many questions now. Did the NSA record Veselnitskaya as she described the meeting to her masters in Moscow? Did her impression of the meeting differ significantly from what Donald Jr has said? What effect did the Trump crime family’s outreach efforts have on Kremlin decision-making? And did they know that Russian state resources were already working on their behalf?
Don Jr called it “phony” to say Russia was trying to hurt Clinton 6 wks after he met w/Russians to plot against herhttps://t.co/spb4g1xBif
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 9, 2017
The Times bombshell also works against Trump administration voices who are trying to quell the scandal.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appeared on Fox New Sunday to declare the story about the meeting was “a nothingburger.” Corey Lewandowski, another Trump campaign figure, told Fox & Friends that the Russian collusion issue was “officially dead.”
But if the fires of controversy were smoldering, the Times just threw gasoline on them. As Rep. Adam Schiff noted on Meet the Press today, the admission that Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with a Russian working against the Magnitsky Act is damning all by itself.
“If they’re talking to the president’s team, then-candidate Trump’s team, then that contradicts, of course, what the president and his people have said about whether they were meeting with any representatives of the Russian government.”
Rep. Schiff says that everyone who was present for the meeting will be called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, so this story is far from finished.
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