Trump's son admits having met Kremlin-linked lawyer

10 July 2017

US President Donald Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr said on Sunday he met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer shortly after his father clinched the Republican nomination, hoping to get information helpful to the campaign.

The President's son agreed to meet with the Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported, citing three advisers to the White House.

Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting at Trump Tower on 9 June 2016, two weeks after Trump won the Republican nomination, report said.

The report quoted a statement from Donald Trump Jr in which he acknowledged meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

''After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Clinton,'' the report quoted Donald Trump Jr as saying. Clinton was the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

''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.''

The paper said Veselnitskaya then turned the conversation to the adoption of Russian children and a US law blackisting Russians linked to alleged human-rights abuses.

President Trump was ''not aware of and did not attend'' the meeting reported by the NYT, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump's legal team, said in an emailed statement.

Trump Jr was quoted saying he believed information on Clinton was only a pretext for the meeting.

Representatives for Manafort and Kushner did not immediately respond to media requests for comment.

The existence of the meeting was disclosed only recently to government officials and confirmed on Saturday by representatives of Trump Jrand Kushner.

In his statement on Sunday, Trump Jr said he was asked by an acquaintance he knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to have a meeting with a person he was told might have information that would be helpful to the Trump campaign. He said he was not told the name of the person before the meeting.

Trump Jr said that during the meeting the attorney claimed to have information that ''individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee'' and supporting Clinton.

''No details or supporting information was provided or even offered,'' Trump Jr said. ''It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.'' He added that his father was unaware of the meeting.

On Saturday, Trump Jr had described the same gathering as a ''short introductory meeting'' during which the three discussed a disbanded program that used to allow US citizens to adopt Russian children. Russia ended the adoptions in response to American sanctions brought against the nation following the 2009 death of an imprisoned lawyer who spoke about a corruption scandal.

Allegations of theTrump campaign's ties to Russia have cast a shadow over the President's first five months in office.

The Kremlin has denied US intelligence agencies' conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election in Trump's favour, using such means as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. Trump himself has repeatedly denied any collusion.

The allegations came up during Trump's meeting on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin but the two agreed to focus on better ties rather than litigating the past.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Trump accepted Putin's assertions the allegations of Russian meddling were false.

Trump said on Sunday he and Putin had discussed forming a cybersecurity unit, an idea harshly criticized by Republicans who said Moscow could not be trusted after its alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

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