In an interview with NBC News published on Tuesday morning, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. last year denied that she promised him information on Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee.
“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Natalia Veselnitskaya told NBC News.
“It’s quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted,” she added when asked why Trump Jr. thought she had damaging info on Democrats.
She also denied to NBC News that she has any connections to the Russian government.
NBC’s Keir Simmons, who interviewed Veselnitskaya, said on MSNBC Tuesday morning that Veselnitskaya told him she got a call from a man she didn’t know asking her to meet with the Trump campaign at Trump Tower. She said that Emin Agalarov, a pop star who appeared in a Miss Universe video with Donald Trump, was involved in setting up the meeting.
“I never asked anybody for a particular meeting with Mr. Donald Trump Jr., or with anybody else,” she told NBC.
Veselnitskaya told NBC that Trump Jr. asked her if she had “had any financial records which might prove that the funds used to sponsor the DNC were coming from inappropriate sources.” She said she told him that she did not have any such records.
She said that Trump Jr. may have been interested in speaking with her because she had gathered info on a former U.S. citizen who ran a company that she believes did not pay taxes in Russia or the U.S. and that might have donated to the DNC.
Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower soon after Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he agreed to the meeting because he believed Veselnitskaya had information about Clinton and the DNC that could help the Trump campaign.
Trump Jr. said that Veselnitskaya did not have “meaningful information” and that they spent much of the meeting talking about Russian adoption. Veselnitskaya told NBC News that the issue of adoption was the main reason for her to attend the meeting.
The New York Times reported Monday night that an email to Donald Trump Jr. indicated that the promised information about Clinton was part of an effort by the Russian government to help the Trump campaign. One source told the Times that it appeared that the publicist who set up the meeting was passing along information that had already been passed through others.
In her interview with NBC News, Veselnitskaya indicated that Kushner and Manafort did not play active roles during her meeting with Trump Jr.
“I could recognize the young gentleman who was only present in the meeting for probably the first seven to 10 minutes, and then he stood up and left the room,” she told NBC News. “It was Mr. Jared Kushner. And he never came back, by the way.”
“And the other individual who was always in the same meeting, but all the time he was looking at his phone. He was reading something. He never took any active part in the conversation. That was Mr. Manafort,” she added.
Watch part of the NBC interview:
This post has been updated.