The New York Times now reports that the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign chair Paul Minafort, Trump son in law Jared Kushner and the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was arranged after Trump Jr. was promised “damaging information” about Trump election opponent Hillary Clinton.
President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. […]
The meeting — at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican nomination — points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.
On Saturday, Trump Jr. said that the meeting was primarily about an “adoption program,” leaving out any reference to Clinton. His story has now changed, but appears to solidly confirm that the meeting was indeed held to discuss information that could be damaging to Clinton. Intelligence agencies and a special counselor are currently investigating potential collusion between Russian hacking efforts and members of the Trump campaign.
In a statement on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “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.”
He now claims that the conversation turned to the Magnitsky Act, sanctions passed in 2012 against specific Russian officials after the murder of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Putin had responded to the act by banning U.S. adoption of Russian children.
“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,” Mr. Trump said.
That can’t be read as anything but that he and the others met with Veselnitskaya, at the time prominently known for her campaign against the U.S. sanctions, to discuss potentially damaging information she might be willing to turn over about Hillary Clinton. His defense is that he, Minafort, and Kushner were tricked into the meeting.