‘They wanted it so badly’ Russian lawyer says of Trump Jr. looking for dirt on DNC
Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign said that it seemed he and the others who attended the meeting were eager for information about the Democratic National Committee.
“They wanted it so badly,” attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya told NBC’s Today in an interview that aired Tuesday. She denied connections to the Kremlin or that she was part of any Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
Veselnitskaya added that she wasn’t aware anyone else besides the president’s eldest son would be joining their June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower. Then-campaign adviser Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort were also in attendance for the meeting.
“All I knew was that Mr. Donald Trump Jr. was willing to meet with me,” Veselnitskaya said. Kushner, she said, “was only present in the meeting for probably only the first seven to 10 minutes.” Manafort was “always looking at his phone” during the meeting “reading something.”
Manafort “never took any active part in the information,” Veselnitskaya said.
When details of the meeting were first reported by The New York Times over the weekend, Trump Jr. said in a statement that he agreed to meet with Veselnitskaya because she “had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.”
He added, “No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
According to a Times report Monday evening, Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the damaging information on Clinton he would supposedly receive from Veselnitskaya was part of the Russian government’s effort to support his father’s bid for the presidency. However, Trump Jr.’s newly hired attorney called the Times’ latest reporting “much ado about nothing.”
Veselnitskaya is best known for her work against the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 bill that blocks certain Russian officials’ entrance to the U.S. and their use of the U.S. banking system.
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