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Donald Trump Jr. Met with Russian Lawyer During 2016 Presidential Campaign
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Donald Trump Jr. Photo courtesy of Gawker.

Summary: Donald Trump Jr. has different explanations as to why he met with a Russian lawyer last year, but could he end up in jail?  

Donald Trump’s oldest son revealed that he had met with a Russian lawyer last year. On CNN, Donald Trump Jr. said that he, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with the Russian national during his father’s presidential campaign, but he denied that the meeting had anything to do with his father’s win.

  
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“It was a short introductory meeting,” Donald Trump Jr. said to CNN. “I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.”

On Sunday, Trump Jr. added that the lawyer talked about Hillary Clinton having ties with the Russians but that the lawyer’s information ultimately seemed useless, according to the BBC.

“After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs Clinton,” Trump Jr. said. “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.”

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The meeting’s news was first broke by The New York Times on Saturday, and the publication said the meeting occurred at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Trump secured the Republican nomination for president.

Trump Jr. said that he was asked to attend the meeting with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, by an acquaintance but was not told in advance who he was meeting with. In his statement, Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya had tried to use Clinton information to lure them to meet; but once there, it became clear her agenda was to talk about Russian adoptions.



Veselnitskaya founded an organization that sought to remove the ban on Russian adoptions in the U.S. The Russian government had placed the ban as a retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that allows America to withhold visas and freeze assets of Russians who violate human rights. Veselnitskaya also wanted to repeal the Magnitsky Act, according to CNN. 

“Nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign,” Veselnitskaya said to The New York Times. “I have never acted on behalf of the Russian government and have never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government.”

While some view this Russian meeting as one that was kept a secret, Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick said that Kushner had disclosed the meeting when he submitted a request for White House Security Clearance. Gorelick added that Kushner, who is President Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior advisor, had met or spoken with numerous representatives from 20 countries before Trump took office.

While the Russian meeting so far appears harmless, the media is on the lookout for a smoking gun that ties Trump to Russia. Currently, Robert Mueller is leading an FBI investigation onto whether Russia had schemed to elect Donald Trump as president, and legal experts told Politico that Trump Jr. may face problems if he were to be put on the stand.

Richard Painter, a former George W. Bush White House ethics lawyer, wrote on Twitter that the meet was “treason.”

“This is treason,” Painter said. “He must have known that the only way Russia would get such information was by spying.”

Robert Bauer, a former a former White House counsel under President Barack Obama and the Democrat’s 2008 campaign attorney, told Politico that even if the meeting ended up only being about adoption, it is unlawful because the initial draw to it was to obtain information about Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t think that is an out,” Bauer said. “If they accept the meeting on the understanding that they will be offered something of value — the opposition research — they are sending a clear signal that they would like to have it.”

 

Trump’s legal team told CNN that the meeting was only to discuss adoption and is being misrepresented to be something more treacherous.

“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” Trump spokesman, Mark Corallo, said.

Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign advisor and is now being investigated by the FBI for his relationship with Russia, has not yet commented on the meeting.

 

What do you think about Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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