President Trump says it's time to "move forward" with Moscow, but the New York Times is out with a front-page story on another meeting between his aides and a Russian figure during the campaign. This one took place two weeks after Trump clinched the GOP nomination and was arranged by Donald Trump Jr. He asked Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to join him as he met in Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. Some details:
- The significance: It's "the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign," per the Times. It's also the first one known to involve Trump's son.
- Similar take: It "adds to the roster of curious private meetings between Trump allies and Russians during and after the campaign," says the Washington Post.
- Or no significance? “It was a nothing meeting,” Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus said on ABC News, per Politico. He said it lasted about 20 minutes and characterized it as a "big nothing burger," adding that "talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people like adoption, is not unusual."
- The subject: Both Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya say they discussed a Russian adoption program halted by the Russian government. This dovetails with something called the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress in 2012, which essentially blacklists Russians accused of humans rights abuses. In retaliation for that act, Vladimir Putin ended the adoption program, which had been popular with Americans. “Nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign,” said Veselnitskaya, who has been working to get the Magnitsky Act rescinded.
- False pretenses? A lawyer for President Trump said Veselnitskaya and her translator "misrepresented who they were" in setting up the meeting. And Trump Jr. said he "was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
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