Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner appeared agitated and disinterested after it became clear that the Russians in the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting could provide little of value, according to testimony from those who attended the meeting released on Wednesday.
As the emails previously released by Trump Jr. revealed, members of the Trump campaign attended a meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and several Russian businesspeople with the promise of damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
However, Veselnitskaya apparently spent most of the meeting alleging that she had discovered the flow of illicit funds to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), as well as inveighing against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. sanctions law that prompted Russia to ban U.S. adoptions of Russian children. This frustrated some of the Trump campaign officials in the room, according to testimony from three people there — Russian lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian businessman Irakly Kaveladze and Rob Goldstone, the publicist who helped set up the meeting.
“You could tell that they were not interested, and they were like looking at their phones or like, you know, just looking the other way, their watch,” Akhmetshin told the committee.
Kushner and Trump Jr. seemed particularly irked by Veselnitskaya’s presentation, meeting attendees said.
As Veselnitskaya was giving her presentation, Trump Jr. specifically asked her if she had any information on Hillary Clinton, suggesting he was frustrated by the lack of dirt about his father’s opponent, according to both Akhmetshin and Kaveladze. Veselnitskaya replied that she did not have information on Clinton and suggested that the Trump campaign research it, Akhmetshin and Kaveladze said.
After that, Trump Jr. “instantly lost interest,” Akhmetshin told the committee. As Veselnitskaya moved on to discuss Russian adoption it was “palpable” that Trump Jr. was no longer interested in the meeting, Akhmetshin added.
“You could kind of see it,” Akhmetshin said.
Goldstone said that Trump Jr. told Veselnitskaya to raise her concerns about the Magnitsky Act “to the Obama administration because they actually are in power” before ending the meeting.
And as the meeting attendees left, Goldstone appeared to apologize to Trump Jr., Kaveladze said.
Kushner left before the end of the meeting, and Kaveladze told the committee that Kushner appeared “very frustrated that he was in the meeting,” asking at one point why Veselnitskaya was discussing the Magnitsky Act.
Goldstone said that Kushner appeared confused and asked Veselnitskaya to give a more focused presentation. Veselnitskaya started over with very similar comments, irking Kushner even more, Goldstone said.
“After a few minutes of this labored presentation, Jared Kushner, who is sitting next to me, appeared somewhat agitated by this and said, I really have no idea what you’re talking about. Could you please focus a bit more and maybe just start again?” Goldstone said in his testimony. “And I recall that she began the presentation exactly where she had begun it last time, almost word for word, which seemed, by his body language, to infuriate him even more.”
While Trump Jr. and Kushner appeared visibly agitated, Paul Manafort seemed disinterested and spent the entire meeting looking at his Blackberry, according to Akhmetshin.
“[H]e was sitting in the chair which kind of goes back. He was almost like lying there, like, you know, on his phone, and it’s through the whole meeting,” Akhmetshin said.