Russia

NYT breaks first report of possible collusion between Trump campaign and Russia

According to a breaking news report from The New York Times, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., agreed to meet with a “Kremlin-connected” Russian lawyer after being promised damaging information about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Times‘ sources are allegedly three advisors to the White House with knowledge of the meeting and two others who were close to the matter.

Then-Trump campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort was present at the meeting as well as President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Manafort and Kushner recently disclosed the meeting in an earlier Times report but didn’t reveal any of its details.

The Times‘ report says the meeting “points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians,” adding that the accounts of the meeting “represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.”

And while President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and the Russians, the episode at Trump Tower is the first such confirmed private meeting involving members of his inner circle during the campaign — as well as the first one known to have included his eldest son. It came at an inflection point in the campaign, when Donald Trump Jr., who served as an adviser and a surrogate, was ascendant and Mr. Manafort was consolidating power.

Although it still remains unclear if the promise of damaging info on Clinton was produced, sources close to the matter say that was the expectation of the parties involved. The report identifies the Russian lawyer as Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 presidential campaign (Gage Skidmore)

Trump Jr. said in a statement this Sunday that he had met with Veselnitskaya at the request of an acquaintance. “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,” Trump Jr. said. “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 added that the conversation then turned the subject of to Russian child adoption and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists human rights abusers from Russia — a law that prompted Putin to halt adoptions of Russian children to U.S. foster parents.

“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,” Trump Jr. said.

Read The New York Times full report here.

Featured image: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

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