Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential race after he was promised damaging information about Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Trump Jr. attended the meeting with the expectation that he would receive compromising information about Clinton, three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two other sources with knowledge of the matter told the Times.
Paul Manafort, then President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE's campaign manager, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a White House senior adviser, also attended the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which was recently disclosed after confidential government documents were described to the Times.
Trump Jr. said in a statement to the paper on Sunday that he had met with Veselnitskaya at the request of an acquaintance and denied that he received any information on Clinton.
A spokesman for President Trump's lawyer told the Times that “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”
Veselnitskaya told the Times in a Saturday statement that “nothing at all about the presidential campaign” was discussed. She “never acted on behalf of the Russian government," she said, and “never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government.”
“After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” Trump Jr. said in his statement. “Her 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.”
He said they then talked about American adoptions of Russian children.
“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.” Trump Jr. told the paper.
He also said in his statement to the Times that Kushner and Manafort attended the meeting at his request and were not aware of the purpose of the meeting.
Spokespeople and lawyers for Kushner and Manafort did not immediately respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.
The U.S. intelligence community has determined that Russia worked to sway the election in favor of Trump. Several congressional committees and the Department of Justice are probing Russia's interference in the 2016 contest and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.