President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign after he was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times claims, quoting five unnamed sources.
Attending the meeting, allegedly held on June 9, 2016 with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at Trump Tower in New York, were Trump's campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, apart from Trump Jr., the Times claims, saying Manafort and Kushner recently disclosed it in confidential government documents.
The newspaper further claims that three advisers to the White House who were briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it have revealed the motivation behind the meeting — to obtain information on Clinton. But it's not clear whether the lawyer was actually able to provide the information at the time, the Times adds.
In a statement to the Times, Trump Jr. said he had met her at the request of an acquaintance from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which his father took to Moscow. "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. 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."
He added that the lawyer's real intent appeared to be adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act in the U.S., which blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. "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."
U.S. intelligence agencies have said they believe Russia made efforts to try to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A recent Washington Post article claimed, also using unnamed sources, that Putin was directly involved in those efforts and was trying to help Trump win.
It was also recently revealed that a Clinton-backed firm allegedly commissioned an unverified intelligence dossier with allegations about Trump.
The Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, which, congressional sources say, is an opposition-research group for Democrats, refused to answer questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee or provide records about the financing of the dossier, according to New York Post.
The 35-page dossier claims that Russia has some damaging information about Trump which could be used for purposes of blackmail to get the U.S. President to cooperate with the Russian government.