Russian Lawyer: Trump Jr. Asked Only One Question

He wanted to know if she had info on iffy financial donations to Democrats
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2017 9:16 AM CDT
Russian Lawyer: Trump Jr. Asked Only One Question
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in a 2016 file photo.   (Yury Martyanov/Kommersant Photo via AP)

The Russian lawyer who has emerged front and center in the new Trump-Russia stories tells NBC News that she has no ties to the Kremlin or any damning information about Hillary Clinton or Democrats. In describing her 20- to 30-minute meeting with Donald Trump Jr. last year, Natalia Veselnitskaya said he asked her only question: "whether I had any financial records which might prove that the funds used to sponsor the DNC were coming from inappropriate sources." She says she has no such information. So why did Trump, who was accompanied at the meeting by Jared Kushner (she says he left after about 10 minutes) and Paul Manafort (she called him "absent-minded") think otherwise? "It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information," she says. "They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted."

Her account raises more confusion about why the meeting was brokered in the first place. The New York Times has reported that Trump Jr. got an email beforehand from a publicist named Rob Goldstone suggesting that Veselnitskaya would provide dirt on Democrats that came from the Russian government. (The tangled web: Goldstone works with a Russian pop star whose billionaire father has ties to Vladimir Putin and President Trump, per Goldstone has said he arranged the meeting at the request of the pop star, Emin Agalarov.) Veselnitskaya, however, says she wanted to meet mainly to present her case against the Magnitsky Act, under which the US blacklists Russians accused of human rights abuses. She represents a client affected by it. Putin, who is a bitter opponent of that act, has said he doesn't know Veselnitskaya. (More Natalia Veselnitskaya stories.)

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