Donald Trump Jr., the U.S. president's eldest son, acknowledged Sunday that he met with a Russian lawyer who he was told might have information "helpful" to his father's presidential campaign last year.
In a statement, Trump said the lawyer, whom The New York Times identified as Natalia Veselnitskaya, offered information about President Donald Trump's then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, but the lawyer's statements were "vague" and "made no sense." Trump Jr. said he determined that she had "no meaningful information" and he discovered that her "true agenda" was to discuss the Magnitsky Act, an American law meant to punish Russian human rights violators.
Read Trump Jr.'s full statement here:
I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. 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. 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. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. 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. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.
The Times, which first reported the story, described Veselnitskaya as a "Kremlin-connected lawyer." The June 9, 2016, meeting and Trump's statement about it raise more questions as a Department of Justice special counsel investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.