Donald Trump Jr. agreed in June 2016 to take a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer after being told he would receive compromising information about Hillary Clinton, multiple White House advisers told The New York Times.
The Times first reported on the meeting, which was also attended by Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman at the time, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on Saturday, but found out more about the motivation behind the meeting following additional interviews on Sunday. The meeting took place June 9 at Trump Tower, and is the first known private meeting with Russians involving Trump Jr. It's unclear if the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, gave any damaging information to Trump Jr., but he went to the meeting expecting that she would, the people who spoke with the Times said.
In a statement to the Times, Trump Jr. said he agreed to meet with Veselnitskaya at the request of an acquaintance, and Veselnitskaya "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." What Veselnitskaya did want to talk about was adoption of Russian children by Americans and the Magnitsky Act, which lets the United States withhold visas and freeze the finances of Russian officials believed to be involved in human rights abuses, Trump Jr. said, adding, "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."
On Saturday, Trump Jr. told the Times the meeting was just about Russian adoptions, and did not mention the promise of information on Clinton. He also said he asked Manafort and Kushner to attend the meeting, but did not tell them what it was going to be about. Veselnitskaya told the Times she "never acted on behalf of the Russian government" and "never discussed any of these matters with any representatives of the Russian government." A spokesman for Trump's legal team said "the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting." The report comes as there are several federal investigations going on looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials before the election.