Russian Lawyer To Senate: Don Jr. Asked For Clinton Info At Trump Tower Meeting

Yury Martyanov/Kommersant
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The Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with President Trump’s top campaign aides and family members said that Donald Trump Jr. asked her if she had evidence of illegal activity related to the Clinton Foundation, according to an NBC report on written answers the lawyer provided to a Senate committee.

The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said that she had no such evidence to provide Trump Jr., according to the report, and blamed the Trump-connected music promoter who acted as an intermediary in setting up the meeting for the miscommunication.

“Today, I understand why it took place to begin with and why it ended so quickly with a feeling of mutual disappointment and time wasted,” Veselnitskaya said in the questionnaire, according to NBC . “The answer lies in the roguish letters of Mr. [Rob] Goldstone.”

The 51 pages of written answers were submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to NBC News. A spokesman for the committee would not comment on the the report.

The Trump Tower meeting, which was also attended by the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and the campaign chair at the time, Paul Manafort, has become a focal point of the various investigations into Russia election meddling. Trump Jr. has said that he took the meeting with the Russians so he could “hear them out” on “information concerning the fitness, character, or qualifications of a presidential candidate” — a statement his lawyer referred NBC News to when asked about Veselnitskaya’s answers to the committee.

Veselnitskaya, according the NBC News, said in the questionnaire that she was not at the meeting on behalf of the Russian government, and that her goal in the meeting was to lobby for a re-examination of the Magnitsky Act, which has resulted in sanctions against certain Russian individuals.

She previously told Bloomberg that Trump Jr. indicated that he would be open to returning to the issue if his father won the election.

Per NBC News’ report, Veselnitskaya denied in her answers to lawmakers that the measures Russia undertook to influence the 2016 election came up in the Trump Tower meeting:

Veselnitskaya said there was no discussion at the Trump Tower meeting of hacked or leaked emails, social media campaigns or any of the other main aspects of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Previously, she told NBC News she had raised the issue of potential questionable contributions to Clinton’s campaign by Americans accused in Russia of tax evasion.

Veselnitskaya confirmed in her answers to lawmakers that, as part of her broader efforts to dismantle the Magnitsky Act, she worked with the founder of the same firm behind the so-called Trump dossier, which made various Russia-related allegations against the then-candidate.  However, she also said in her written answers that she was not aware of the Trump dossier project, backing up what what firm founder Glenn Simpson has testified to lawmakers, according to NBC News.

She called the claims that dossier could have the handprints of Russian disinformation — given the firm it shared with Veselnitskaya’s anti-Magnitsky Act work — “unsubstantiated and outrageous insinuations,” according to NBC News.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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