Saturday 22 July 2017

Russian lawyer told Trump Jr ‘she had dirt’ on Hillary Clinton

Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Photo: AP
Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Photo: AP

Rachael Alexander

A British publicist has claimed to be the go-between for Donald Trump’s son and a Russian lawyer, amid mounting concern over possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Donald Trump Jr, the eldest son of the president, met Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower after she claimed she had damaging material about Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, Jr. Photo: Getty Images
Donald Trump, Jr. Photo: Getty Images

The encounter was set up by Rob Goldstone, a New York-based former journalist, whose PR firm describes the Manchester-born executive as having represented Michael Jackson, BB King and Richard Branson.

Mr Trump Jr said that the meeting did not provide any information about Mrs Clinton and that he was lured there under false pretences.

Ms Veselnitskaya, who is married to a Moscow government official, has denied that she works for the Kremlin.

“I was asked by my client in Moscow – Emin Agalarov – to help facilitate a meeting between a Russian attorney [Natalia Veselnitzkaya] and Donald Trump Jr,” said Mr Goldstone, in a statement.

Election rival: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Photo: AP
Election rival: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Photo: AP

“The lawyer had apparently stated she had some information regarding illegal campaign contributions to the DNC [Democratic National Committee] which she believed Mr Trump Jr might find important.

“I reached out to Mr Trump Jr and he agreed to squeeze us into a very tight meeting schedule.

“At the meeting, the Russian attorney presented a few very general remarks regarding campaign funding and then quickly turned the topic to that of the Magnitsky Act and the banned US adoption of Russian children – at which point the meeting was halted by Mr Trump Jr and we left.

“Nothing came of that meeting and there was no follow-up between the parties.”

His client, Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop singer, is the son of Aras Agalarov, a billionaire tycoon who sponsored the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which was owned by Donald Trump.

Mr Trump Jr issued two statements about the meeting, when approached by ‘The New York Times’.

First, he said it was an encounter to discuss adoption. Then he admitted that he hoped the Russian lawyer would provide damaging material on his father’s rival.

“Obviously, I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting or hear info about an opponent,” he tweeted yesterday.

“Went nowhere but had to listen.”

A spokesman for the president’s personal lawyer said he “was unaware of the meeting and did not attend it”.

The president was also yesterday trying to deflect criticism of his daughter Ivanka after she sat in his chair during a meeting at the G20 attended by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Mr Trump described having his daughter take his place as “standard”.

“If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say Chelsea For Pres,” [sic] he tweeted.

“It would never have occurred to my mother or father to ask me,” Ms Clinton replied. “Were you giving our country away? Hoping not.”

Mr Trump was also forced to back away from a plan to work with Russia on a cyber security unit, after the suggestion was met with widespread ridicule in Washington.

Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate’s armed services committee, said the idea of a joint cyber security unit was “not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close”.

Mr Trump said: “The fact that president Putin and I discussed a cyber security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen.”

Mr Trump said the two countries could work together on some areas, including on Syria, where he said a new ceasefire would “save lives”.

He also spent the day goading the Republican-led US Congress to pass major healthcare legislation, saying it would not “dare” leave for the summer recess in August “without a beautiful new healthcare bill fully approved and ready to go!” (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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