A July 11 bombshell report alleges that Donald Trump Jr. knew his meeting with the Russian lawyer during his father's 2016 presidential campaign was part of an effort by the Russian government to help swing the election in Trump's favor.
Before meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to attain compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Trump Jr. was told that the material was part of a Russian government effort to help secure a Trump victory in the 2016 presidential election, The New York Times reported.
Trump Jr. was allegedly informed of this via an email sent by publicist Rob Goldstone, a former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.
Trump Jr. acknowledged that he was interested in attaining compromising information on Hillary Clinton during his meeting with the Russian lawyer, according to a statement he gave to The New York Times. However, he further stated that he did not know who he was meeting with at the time and that the meeting was set up by an acquaintance.
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According to the newspaper's sources, Goldstone's email revealed that the Russian government was the source of the damaging information Trump Jr. sought, and that the president's eldest son was made aware of this. The email did not provide further details on the Kremlin's wider efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The report did not specify whether the damaging information promised to Trump Jr. was related to the Russian government's computer hacking campaign, which led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails.
The meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya took place on June 9, 2016, just a couple of weeks after Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination. He admitted to meeting with the woman to procure compromising information on Clinton, but added that he did not know the woman's name prior to the meeting.
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In a statement issued to The New York Times on July 9, Trump Jr. said 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," the statement read. "She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act."
The White House has since defended the president's son.
"The president's campaign did not collude in any way," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters during an off-camera conference on July 10, according to the Daily Mail. "I would certainly say Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election."
Shortly after the White House's statement, Reuters reported that Trump Jr. hired criminal defense lawyer Alan Futerfas.
"In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia," Futerfas told The New York Times in an email. "Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed."