Donald Trump Jr. under fire for statements about meeting with Russian lawyer

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Donald Trump Jr. is facing greater scrutiny after he released two notably different statements over the weekend regarding a meeting he and other members of President Donald Trump’s campaign had with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton in June.

The meeting, which was reportedly attended by Trump Jr., former campaign chair Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, was uncovered in a recent report by the New York Times.

On Saturday, Trump Jr. released a short statement to the Times about the meeting, calling it a “short introductory meeting” where they spoke about an issue of Americans adopting Russian children. It excluded any mention of the lawyer promising information about Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, or the fact that Kushner also attended the meeting.

However, on Sunday, the Times followed up its story with more details. Trump Jr. then released a much longer statement to the newspaper that acknowledged the broad strokes of the reporting including that the Kremlin-connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said she had “information helpful to the campaign” that showed “individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.”

Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya’s statements were “vague, ambiguous and made no sense” and “no details or supporting information was provided or even offered.”

He also said his father, President Trump, “knew nothing of the meeting.”

Here is the first statement Trump Jr. released on Saturday:

“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 that 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.”

Here is the second statement, released on Sunday:

“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.

 

“We had a meeting in June 2016. 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.

 

“She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to be that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office.

 

“The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.”

In its story, the Times notes that the meeting represents “the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help,” which may be a factor in the ongoing investigations by both houses of Congress and the intelligence community that includes inquiries into whether Trump’s presidential campaign worked with Russia to help get him elected.

As the Washington Post points out, Trump Jr.’s second statement directly contradicts his earlier claims, and claims by President Trump and other members of the campaign, that the Trump campaign did not have contact with Russians ahead of the election.

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).