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More on the Trump Jr. Meeting (Updated)

Trump RussiaRussia

The NYT has a follow-up on the story I wrote about earlier today concerning a meeting between a Kremlin-connected attorney and key members of the Trump campaign team:  Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner only recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times.

The Times reported the existence of the meeting on Saturday. But in subsequent interviews, the advisers and others revealed the motivation behind it.

Trump Jr. issued a statement (reproduced in full below) which corroborates the basics of the NYT piece (via Fox News):

“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.

“I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared (Kushner) and Paul (Manafort) 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 Ms. Clinton.

“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. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned 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.

“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. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.”

The 2013 Miss Universe pageant was held in Russia.

A news analysis in WaPo notes:

Read that last part again: “the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”

Trump Jr. confirmed that he went into the meeting expecting to receive information from the Russian lawyer that could hurt Clinton. That is a breathtaking admission.

The rest of Trump Jr.’s statement is an attempt to minimize the value of what the lawyer actually told him. The outcome of the meeting and its effect on the presidential race is important, of course, yet it is kind of beside the point.

Trump Jr.’s attempt to obtain information from a Russian lawyer that could harm Clinton seems likely to alarm investigators, regardless of whether the effort proved successful.

The only defense, such as it is, from Trump Jr. is that if he did not know who he was meeting that he also did not know the contact was Russian (but since the contact who set up the meeting was likely Russian, odds are he knew the meeting was with a Russian/Russia-connected individual).  Nonetheless, there is at least an admission of possible collusion with an outside source for damaging information on the Clinton campaign.  At a minimum it is clear that he was willing to continue the meeting to see what she had to say, even once he knew of her nationality.  And it also undercuts denials of attempted contacts between Russian representatives and the Trump campaign (and appears to confirm their willingness to receive such information).

Update:  A separate WaPo piece details who arranged the meeting:

In an interview Sunday, Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who is friendly with Donald Jr., told The Washington Post that he had arranged the meeting at request of a Russian client and attended with Veselnitskaya.

Goldstone has been active with the Miss Universe pageant and works as a manager for Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose father is a wealthy Moscow developer who sponsored the pageant in the Russian capital in 2013.

Goldstone would not name the client. Instead, he said that Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss ways that Trump could be helpful on the Magnitsky Act issue should he be elected president.

“Once she presented what she had to say, it was like, ‘Can you keep an eye on it? Should [Trump] be in power, maybe that’s conversation that he may have in the future?’ ” Goldstone said.

 

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    The WH is claiming this vindicates them…but I see the opposite.
    They were falling over themselves to get dirt on Clinton from the Russians…so what wouldn’t they have done?.
    If this stuff is bubbling up, just imagine what Mueller knows…….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  2. CSK says:

    Another thing this confirms is that Donald Uday Trump, Junior, is about as smart as a turnip.

    Does he not realize that he just admitted that the only reason he met with this woman was to get damaging info on Clinton?

    Is it possible for anyone to be this breathtakingly stupid?

    I guess it is.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    A New York Times report Sunday citing advisers to the White House briefed on the encounter said Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being promised information damaging to Hillary Clinton.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. CSK says:

    And of course Kushner’s lawyer is saying that Kushner only went to the meeting because Junior requested his presence.

    They’re as dimwitted and malevolent as Trump Senior–and they have the honor of toads.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  5. Gustopher says:

    This is the “I wanted to collude with a foreign power, and I really tried to, but it just didn’t work” defense.

    Wow.

    I cannot wait to see how this is explained away as normal in the next few days.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 0

  6. wr says:

    Let’s not jump to conclusions here. We’ve got to wait for Mbunge to explain how it’s all really because Democrats suck.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 0

  7. Gustopher says:

    Pondering slightly longer… if what Trump Jr. is saying is true, then he met with Russian operatives who said “we have damaging information on Clinton”, were vague about it, and then brought up a law they wanted changed.

    I may not have “The Art Of The Deal” running through my veins, but I can tell when someone is offering a quid pro quo. Trump Jr. might be a little slow on the uptake, but I am smarter than the average bear — or at least smarter than the really dumb bear who wouldn’t see this.

    Was he, or anyone in attendance, legally obligated to report this offer? And is this now the “I’m too stupid to recognize an offer” defense?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  8. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I can’t wait for tomorrow’s twitter rant about fake news.
    Un-flipping-believable how stupid these guys are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. Davebo says:

    @wr:

    Classic! But I doubt even he will try to tackle this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. N Waff says:

    If Kushner made the statement ““It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along”. This seems the opposite of what WashPost is claiming – campaign information was not the agenda and “It became clear” that the Russians tried to make it the agenda but they came with nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    And of course Kushner’s lawyer is saying that Kushner only went to the meeting because Junior requested his presence.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/more-on-the-trump-jr-meeting/#ixzz4mOTKAT8A

    This may turn out to be the most important statement for historical purposes. A stupid paranoid person (insert Trump family member here) may interpret this as selling out Dumb Donny Jr. to save his own skin. Donny Jr. appears to be awesomely stupid indeed. If so, it might turn into a real bitch fight.

    It’s worth repeating something I said right after Dumb Donny Sr. was elected: It never pays to bet on stupid. Republican President Trump is stupid. Donny Jr. is stupid. Steve Bannon is made stupid by his fanatical racism. Kushner and Ivanka might be the smartest of the bunch, but that’s not saying much. If Mueller et. al. can start a scramble for cover it could all come crashing down quickly. We can only hope, for the sake of the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. Gustopher says:

    @N Waff: Good first try at rationalizing this.

    Now, why was this meeting not disclosed voluntarily?

    Let’s say the Russians were offering unspecified damaging material on Clinton, as the Trumpsters assert, and that they wanted to discuss the Magnitsky Act, as they also claim… that sounds pretty memorable. Why would they then forget this meeting when filling out security forms?

    Why would they not report this at the time? Were they keeping the option of colluding with the Russians open, in case they wanted to do so later? Were they mindbogglingly stupid so they couldn’t see the untoward nature of the meeting? Or are they lying about the events of the meeting now in an effort to make themselves look good, and being really bad at it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. N Waff says:

    I’m trying to find where “information helpful to the campaign” (Kushner) means “information from the Russian lawyer that could hurt Clinton” (WashPost) – that seems to be a leap that WashPost is taking, without connecting one statement from Kushner with an accusation from WashPost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  14. Gustopher says:

    @N Waff: perhaps the Russians had a few ideas on how to connect with disaffected white men?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  15. Hal_10000 says:

    Still not a “smoking gun” but still more reason for Mueller to press forward.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  16. drj says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Still not a “smoking gun”

    What would be a smoking gun, then? An actual video recording of Trump selling his country down the river?

    In that case, Mueller might just as well give up right now.

    But let’s look (non-exhaustively) at what we do have so far:

    * Trump is deeply in debt with Russian money lenders.

    * People close to Trump made significant changes to the RNC platform with regard to Ukraine.

    * US intelligence agencies found that Russia hacked the DNC to benefit Trump’s campaign.

    * Trump’s campaign made active use of the stolen information once it was released.

    * Trump’s NSA had unauthorized meetings with Russian intelligence and lied about it.

    * Trump’s son-in-law met with Russian officials and lied about it.

    * Trump admitted he fired the guy who was overseeing the Russia investigation, because he wouldn’t shut it down.

    * Trump Jr admitted he sought to receive damaging information about Clinton from a subject of a hostile power.

    Even if insufficient for a criminal conviction, this should be enough (ten times over) for impeachment.

    If only Republicans wouldn’t be OK with likely treason…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  17. SKI says:

    @Gustopher:

    I cannot wait to see how this is explained away as normal in the next few dayshours.

    FTFY

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Franklin says:

    Sure is a lot of “normal” stuff happening that has never ever happened before.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  19. al-Alameda says:

    Usually when you turn on the light the cockroaches scurry away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. gVOR08 says:

    Balloon Juice reminds us that when the Gore campaign received a W debate prep book, they called the FBI.

    Beyond feeding speculation about whether Don Jr. is dumber than Fredo, the fun thing is that this mostly seems to be coming from WH higher ups ratting each other out. And is anyone still claiming there’s no evidence of at least attempted collusion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  21. SKI says:

    @al-Alameda:

    Usually when you turn on the light the cockroaches scurry away.

    These cockroaches have no sense of shame.

    That really is what has been so striking. The glee/pride so many of our fellow citizens have shown about acting like assh0les.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. CSK says:

    @SKI:

    The sad fact is that the more Trump and Company demonstrate what a pack of sleazy, lying, incompetent buffoons (i.e., assholes, to use your word) they are, the more the Trumpkins love it. To them, it proves how tough Trump and his crew are.

    But most of all, they love that it bothers the rest of us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. Argon says:

    1) Deny
    2) Lie
    3) Admit to part of the story**
    4) Deny that there was any problem in the first place**
    At every step claim: It’s all FAKE NEWS!!

    Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    **Never explain the need for the original denial or lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  24. KM says:

    @drj :

    What would be a smoking gun, then? An actual video recording of Trump selling his country down the river?

    That’s is the question for the ages. At what point do we admit that stench we keep smelling is the turd America stepped in months ago?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  25. Argon says:

    gVOR08: Balloon Juice reminds us that when the Gore campaign received a W debate prep book, they called the FBI.

    But hey, Both Sides Do It™, doncha know?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  26. CSK says:
  27. Raoul says:

    Let’s cut to the chase about what this means: Donald Trump, Jr. sought being a U.S, traitor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Facebones says:

    @CSK: Yeah, this is the key point.

    Me: “Don’t you care that more and more evidence is growing that Russia interfered in our election, and it looks increasingly more likely that the Trump campaign collaborated with a hostile foreign government?”

    Trumpies: “HA! SUCK IT, LIBTARD! WE WON!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  29. CSK says:

    @Facebones:

    And bear in mind that the Trumpkins love Putin. Partly that’s because their savior is Putin’s bitch, but also because Putin is (allegedly) a Christian and a tough guy who hates homosexuals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    FLIP

    @Real President Pud:
    6:50 AM – 9 Jul 2017
    Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..

    Thirteen hours later after his Republican buddies in Congress blasted the idea as “Not the dumbest thing I’ve heard, but it’s close!”

    FLOP

    @Real President Pud:
    7:45 PM – 9 Jul 2017
    The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!

    The Ole’ Pervert must be posting from the Waffle House!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  31. CSK says:

    I just Googled “Fredo” and “Trump” and came up with 232,000 hits.

    Donald Sr, Donald Jr, and Eric have all been compared to Fredo at one point or another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    He still seems not to understand that it shouldn’t happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Asking whether some particular individual in the Trump crime family is Fredo is like asking if a Republican is lying or stupid. The answer is yes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    They’re like the Corleones, but without Vito, without a consigliere, without Fat Clemenza, without Michael.

    Without anything, really, besides a cluster of Fredos surrounded by a White House full of Tessios.

    For Democrats, this is a gift …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  35. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I can just see Donnie Junior going to Daddy and screaming: “I’m smart! I can handle things!”

    In all fairness to Donnie and Eric–and believe me, I hate being fair to either one of these creeps–it must have been tough growing up with a father who openly belittled and mocked them and broadcast his vast preference for their sister Ivanka. Worse, they had to know Daddy was lusting openly and publicly after his little girl–or, “piece of ass,” as Howard Stern called her with Trump’s hearty approval. I’m sure they enjoyed seeing their mother dumped like week-old garbage, too.

    They’re pitiable. Despicable, but pitiable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  36. Joe says:

    @CSK:

    By all reports, Donald senior learned all this from the feet of a master. When I am not (generally or specifically) outraged about things this Administration and family does, I feel bad for them as people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    I am outraged that the President of the United States is a
    self confessed sexual molester of women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..He still seems not to understand that it shouldn’t happen.

    His brain is so swamped in perversion I don’t think he even knows what it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Apparently Trump has an elephantine memory for the names of those who’ve dissed him. Nothing else sticks in what passes for his brain. Remember when he changed his “position” on abortion three times in the course of three hours?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. CSK says:

    Well, Trump’s “highly respected” (by whom, I wonder?) Voter Integrity Commission has suspended its data collection. I suspect this may be because 45 out of 50 states refused to provide the data.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Davebo says:

    Jared’s FS86 form now has more amendments than the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. de stijl says:

    There have been roughly twenty meetings between the Trump team and Russians that were not disclosed during conformation hearings or on security clearance documents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0