Trump Jr was told Russia behind promised information on Hillary Clinton
Trump Jr’s lawyer Alan Futerfas dismissed the report as “much ado about nothing”.world Updated: Jul 12, 2017 00:21 IST
Before the US president’s son Donald Trump Jr met a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, he was reportedly told that the Kremlin was behind the information.
The revelation, reported first by The New York Times, has been called the “smoking gun” in media reports linking the Trump campaign to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, under investigation by the justice department and congress.
Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who set up that meeting, told Trump Jr in an email that the compromising information he was to get from the lawyer was part of Russian government’s efforts to ensure his father’s victory, according to the report.
That information “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”, read the email, according to The New York Times. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump,” it said.
Trump Jr had replied within minutes, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The White House has defended the meeting, which took place at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, but said that the President came to know of it only “in the last couple of days”.
Trump Jr’s newly appointed lawyer Alan Futerfas dismissed the report as “much ado about nothing”.
“During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton in her dealings with Russia.
“Don Jr’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”
Trump Jr, who is the eldest of President Donald Trump’s five children, has acknowledged he met Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, tweeting that he went “to hear info about an opponent... (it) went nowhere but had to listen”.
That meeting was also attended by the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign chief Paul Manafort. Both under investigation for their dealings with Russian officials.
The significance of the new revelations can be gauged from the fact that Trump Jr joined Monday a growing line of Trump affiliates, past and present, to lawyer up in anticipation of legal complications arising from the Russia probe.
Goldstone said he set up that meeting at the request of a client, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. The Russian lawyer, he was told, had “information about illegal campaign contributions to the” Democratic party.
Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, is a Moscow real-estate tycoon and is said to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had also worked with Trump to take the Miss Universe pageant, which was then owned by Trump, to Moscow in 2013.
First Published: Jul 11, 2017 22:54 IST