Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya shortly after the election…And then Trump Jr. denied it ever happened.
The New York Times reports:
Donald Trump’s eldest son, son-in-law and then-campaign chairman met with a Russian lawyer shortly after Trump won the Republican nomination, in what appears to be the earliest known private meeting between key aides to the president and a Russian.
Veselnitskaya is well-known for her involvement in efforts to remove U.S. sanctions against Russia for its notorious human rights abuses. The Russian Lawyer’s especially keen on getting the 2012 Magnitsky Act repealed. This law targets the specific Russians involved, freezes their U.S. bank accounts and other holdings, and bans them from coming to the United States. The law was passed by the GOP-controlled congress and signed by then-President Barack Obama.
Oh, and her husband just happens to work for the Russian Government and both have close ties to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump Jr.’s and Jared Kushner’s reps confirmed the meeting with the Russian lawyer took place in June 2016, but only after the New York Times forced their hand by breaking the story earlier on Saturday. Daddy Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort was also present at the meeting, which of course took place at Trump Tower. And they claim all they talked about was Russian adoptions.
But wait a minute. When The New York Times asked Trump Jr. if he’d met with anyone from Russia back in March, he flatly denied it.
“Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”
When asked if he’d ever talked about U.S. government policies that relate to Russia, he doubled down on his denials answering, “A hundred percent no.” Since Donald Trump’s oldest son isn’t in his father’s cabinet, he’s not required to disclose his meeting with the Russian lawyer and other foreign nationals. But if that’s the case, he shouldn’t have been discussing matters of state at all.
But here’s the thing. When Jared Kushner filed for his security clearance, he didn’t mention the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya either. In a statement, his advisers said Kushner had notified the FBI that he’d made a mistake and would update the filing. According to his lawyer Jamie Gorelick:
“He has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows.”
In other words, we’re supposed to give Ivanka’s husband a free pass because he couldn’t handle his new job. They also said he met with the Russian lawyer and others connected to the Kremlin because it was, as The New York Times puts it, part of “his official transition capacity as a main point of contact for foreign officials.”
But wait a minute. Since Barack Obama was still serving as president until the day of the inauguration, team Trump had no business talking with these “foreign officials” at all.
This is just one more example of the Trump administration’s sketchy ties to Russia. In April POLITICO delved into the White House’s sketchy ties to Russian officials and found them so complicated they needed 7 charts to explain them.
Here’s more simple version from an article that ran in The Washington Post.