Trump Jr. hires lawyer while downplaying meeting with Russian attorney
Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump Jr. has hired a lawyer to represent him in matters related to the investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Alan Futerfas, a criminal defense attorney based in New York City, will represent the president’s eldest son.
Trump Jr. earlier responded to news reports about his meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign season, suggesting that he did not do anything out of the ordinary.
The news of the June 2016 meeting broke this past weekend, and Trump Jr. said that he went to the meeting with a Russian lawyer after being told by an acquaintance that the attorney “might have information helpful to the campaign,” according to a statement from him given to ABC News on Sunday night.
Monday morning he tweeted a sarcastic defense, writing, “Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen.”
Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen. https://t.co/ccUjL1KDEa
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
His post included a Drudge Report tweet with a link to a New York Post story that called a New York Times story about his previously unknown meeting with the Russian lawyer “a big yawn.” He later tweeted the link directly.
Trump went on to respond to a subsequent New York Times tweet that said he gave two different explanations for the meeting in the course of 24 hours. He wrote, “No inconsistency in statements, meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q’s I simply provided more details.”
No inconsistency in statements, meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q’s I simply provided more details. https://t.co/FdT1D4hfhz
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
His second, more detailed statement, received by ABC News on Sunday night, gave more information about the subjects he said were discussed at the meeting, which took place on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower in Manhattan. In addition to him, Donald Trump Sr.’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then–campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, attended the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a statement received by ABC News. “I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend but told them nothing of the substance.
“We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting [Hillary] Clinton.
“[Veselnitskaya’s] 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,” Trump said.
Trump said that she then changed the subject and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and moved the conversation toward the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that bars certain Russian officials’ entrance to the U.S. and their use of the U.S. banking system. After the act was passed, Russia stopped allowing Americans to adopt Russian children. Veselnitskaya is best known for her work against the Magnitsky Act.
“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. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official but rather a private citizen and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office,” Trump said in his statement.
“The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it, and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind,” he said.
Trump added that his father knew nothing of the meeting.
The president’s personal legal team said he did not attend the meeting and had not been aware of it.
The acquaintance who set up the meeting was Rob Goldstone, a music publicist and friend of Donald Trump Jr., according to a source familiar with the meeting.
Goldstone reiterated some of the points made by Trump Jr. about what was discussed at the meeting and revealed some new information about how it happened in the first place.
“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. The lawyer had apparently stated she had some information regarding illegal campaign contributions to the [Democratic National Committee] which she believed Mr. Trump Jr. might find important,” Goldstone said in a statement obtained by ABC News today.
“I reached out to Donald 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 U.S. adoption of Russian children – at which point the meeting was halted by Don Jr. and we left. Nothing came of that meeting and there was no follow up between the parties.”
In his first statement on the topic, released Saturday, Donald Trump Jr. described the meeting as “short” and “introductory” and said they “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers passed information stolen from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party to WikiLeaks in 2016. The release of that material began July 22.
The meeting with Veselnitskaya was only recently disclosed by Kushner, now a senior White House aide, when he resubmitted a form necessary for his security clearance. His attorney Jamie Gorelick released a statement on Saturday regarding the revelation, explaining, “As we have previously stated, Mr. Kushner’s SF-86 was prematurely submitted and, among other errors, did not list any contacts with foreign government officials.”
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