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Russian Lawyer Alleges Donald Trump, Jr. Offered Quid Pro Quo For Information On Clinton

Trump Russia

The Kremlin linked Russian lawyer who was the subject of the summer 2016 meeting attended by Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner is saying in a new interview that the President’s eldest son offered to ease sanctions on Russia in exchange for information on Hillary Clinton:

Safely ensconced in Moscow, the Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties who met with three top Trump campaign figures at Trump Tower last summer is now offering her own version of what went down at the private meeting that has become a central focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In an interview with Bloomberg published Monday, attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya claims that Donald Trump Jr. suggested that a law imposing sanctions on high-profile Russians could be reviewed if his father was elected and also requested written evidence for her allegations about Hillary Clinton’s campaign receiving illicit funds.

Veselnitskaya told Bloomberg she is prepared to provide this account to the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as to special counsel Robert Mueller. She said that she would only testify before Congress if her answers were made public—a condition that the committee has not yet agreed to.

This is the first time Veselnitskaya has offered details of her version of the June 2016 sit-down at Trump Tower. Her willingness to testify highlights the precarious position of Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who were all in attendance at the meeting, which didn’t become public until after Trump took office. The eldest Trump son eagerly accepted an invitation to the meeting, which was billed as an opportunity to receive Russian government “dirt” on Clinton.

Though both Veselnitskaya and the Trump campaign have said the encounter was a bust and that she possessed no valuable information about the Democratic candidate, Mueller is investigating their exchange as part of his probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Alan Futerfas, Trump Jr.’s attorney, told Bloomberg that his client had no comment on the interview.

As Veselnitskaya recalled, Trump Jr. offered to review the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on a group of Russian officials implicated in the murder of a Russian accountant who exposed widespread government tax fraud. The law is a particular irritant to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who retaliated against its passage by barring Americans from adopting Russian children.

“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,” Veselnitskaya told Bloomberg, allegedly quoting Trump Jr

Obviously, Veselnitskaya’s allegations should be taken with a grain of salt at the very least. Given her ties to the Kremlin and the fact that this interview took place in Moscow, it’s entirely possible that she’s not telling the truth, or even that she’s part of ongoing Kremlin efforts to thread chaos and uncertainty into both the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and American politics in general. It is worth noting, though, that these allegations are consistent with other reporting about the June 2016 between Veselnitskaya and Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort. While both Trump Jr. and the Trump White House initially claimed the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the state of the law regarding American adopting of Russian orphans. This was the claim made in a statement released after the initial reports about the meeting that we know now the President himself participated in drafting on the way home from a trip to Europe on Air Force One. On its surface, that statement seemed questionable since it didn’t make sense that three of Trump’s closest campaign advisers would take a meeting on such an esoteric topic. However, that statement quickly proved to be untrue after Trump Jr. released a string of emails between himself and other campaign officials regarding the meeting. Those emails made it clear that the purported purpose of the meeting was based on the claim that the Kremlin-linked lawyer could deliver allegedly damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskaya’s allegations, if true, make it clear that this was the only reason Trump Jr. and the others were meeting with her.

If these allegations are true then the would constitute the clearest evidence yet that the Trump campaign was willing to take any steps necessary to uncover dirt about Hillary Clinton, even if it meant secretly colluding with the chief geopolitical rival of the United States. It would also even further undermine Trump Administration claims that there was no collusion or attempted collusion with Russians in connection with Russian officials and officials with connections to the Russian government. Of course, this fact has become increasingly clear in the wake of things such as the guilty plea of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, the news that has come out in the wake of that guilty plea, and the dealings that other campaign officials such as Carter Page reportedly had with Russians while they were working on the campaign. At the very least, all of this demonstrates that the Trump campaign and Administration’s continued denials are ringing more hollow by the day, and that there is obviously something here that needs to be investigated further.

 

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. alkali says:

    Obviously, Veselnitskaya’s allegations should be taken with a grain of salt at the very least. Given her ties to the Kremlin and the fact that this interview took place in Moscow, it’s entirely possible that she’s not telling the truth …

    Agreed. Would further note that given that everyone who attended on the Russian side was in some way linked to Russian intelligence, there is certainly a recording of this event. Whether we will ever hear any part of it is an interesting thing to speculate about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. Moosebreath says:

    Don’t worry. I am sure the Bunge-hole will be by soon to tell us there is no evidence of collusion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Kind of gives new meaning to Trump’s claims all through 2016 that “I alone can do it”. Snappy slogan that is addressed to multiple audiences at the same time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This is so much fun…its like looking thru a telescope and fiddling with the focus knob. Slowly all of this is coming into sharper focus. And it is not looking the way the Comb-Over keeps telling us it should look.
    Carter Pages testimony yesterday seemed to support more of the Steele Dossier. Though all of that document is still “unproven”, conclusively, I am aware of nothing in it that has been disproved.
    It’s Mueller Time. I bet Cheeto-Dick tries to fire him when he gets back to the States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Here’s the beauty part for me. I have a book submission out to publishers – the first ‘spec’ work I’ve done in a decade, and the book is all about Cyprus, the Russian mob and money-laundering. Timing could not be better.

    This has always been about money at its heart. The whole “did Trump collude with Putin” narrative is off-track. The underlying story is that Trump, Kushner, Flynn, Manafort, Gates and Ross were all in bed with Russians or in hock to Russians. That’s where the story starts IMO, it starts with the Russians realizing they owned half the Trump team. That’s how the Russians could be sure that their efforts to seduce various Trumpies more directly would work. They knew Trump couldn’t just slap them down.

    The Russians almost certainly have hard proof that Trump’s people have been corrupted. They’ll likely have video. My guess is they have video to support the dossier’s more salacious allegations. That’s why Trump can never criticize Putin. It’s why he pushed back against sanctions so hard that the Congress passed a law stopping Trump from killing sanctions. It’s why the GOP suddenly changed sides on Ukraine.

    Every allied government, and the Chinese, almost certainly believe Trump is in bed with Putin, which means they know that Trump can be bought and American democracy can be subverted with a few Facebook ads, some hacking and some Twitter bots.

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

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    American democracy can be subverted with a few Facebook ads, some hacking and some Twitter bots.

    The shame of that is that it is not a weakness of Democracy, but a weakness of the average Republican mind. Never, in modern times, has a group such a large group been so prone to believe such utter nonsense.

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

  7. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I think we’re going to find out that not only isn’t Trump as wealthy as he claims but that he lost control of his organization to the money men in the Russian oligarchy. Above a certain level there really isn’t a private sector in Russia, and I’m betting that Trump found that out too late. That would be the thing he’d hate to have come out – that others own the company with his name on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. Paul L. says:

    It was a setup.
    RUSSIAN LAWYER WHO LIED TO GET MEETING WITH TRUMP JR. MET WITH FUSION GPS CO-FOUNDER BEFORE AND AFTER MEETING

    The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with a Russian lawyer before and after a key meeting she had last year with Trump’s son

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  9. Teve tory says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    A lot of people have always been dumb and credulous. But it wasn’t as big a problem when the only news options were Walter Cronkite or huntley-brinkley. But now that dumb, credulous people can listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity all day, it’s suddenly a serious problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Teve tory:

    But now that dumb, credulous people can listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity all day, it’s suddenly a serious problem.

    And you can see too that their the only one the Trumpies will talk to.
    They aren’t going on any outlet where they will be challenged. Only where they know they will get softballs from sycophants.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Round 27 of the Pitiful Trump Apologist’s yelling, “Squirrel!”

    Ain’t gonna work, dude. That dog won’t hunt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Paul L.: Now there’s a credible source of news…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” — Donald (Fredo) Trump, Junior, 2008

    “Well, we don’t rely on banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” — Eric Trump, 2014

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  14. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: It all comes down to one old and simple proverb:

    “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. Gustopher says:

    Best case scenario for the Trumpster Fire: He and his campaign have allowed themselves to get so entwined with the Russian Intelligence Services that Russia can create havoc not just by interfering with the election, but also by lying about the events of meetings that the Trumpsters never should have taken.

    This is not what one would call good.

    Worst case scenario is that the Trumpsters are exactly as guilty as they seem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. MarkedMan says:

    An interesting side note: Josh Marshall has long felt that Trump was vulnerable to Russian connections due to his shady financial deals, but has remained skeptical that the Russians have direct dirt on him. But after reviewing the Carter Page and George Papadopoulos documents, he has changed his mind. He thinks that whether or not the Russians had provable dirt on him before the election, they certainly have it now. As he said recently, The Russian’s would be looking for certain characteristics in the patsy’s for their rat-f*cking operations, someone on the other side that is desperate, corrupt, stupid or naive. And in Eric and Donny Jr, the Russians had all four at once. What are the odds that Russian intelligence didn’t have their guys wearing a wire while meeting with them? (I’d lay even odds that Paul Manafort set them up, and that’s why he left the meeting early. Maybe that was why he suddenly felt free enough to start running up millions of dollars worth of bling.) So at the very least, Donny Sr is acting as their tool in order to keep his family out of jail.

    FWIW, I think it goes back much farther. Trump was involved in all kinds of Russian schemes for twenty years, and we know the KGB routinely sets chumps up with hookers and fills them. I think the Pee tape is not only possible, but I suspect there is much worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Modulo Myself says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Look at what Matt Taibbi was writing about Russia as ‘satire’ in the late 90s…Russia was a place where rich Americans went to do what they were not allowed to do in America or that at least was its image. Taibbi goes on about how great Russian women are because when they say ‘no’ they mean ‘yes’.

    Do people really want to know what Trump was doing in the early 2000s in Russia? Or what he was getting there that he could not get in America? I have an acquaintance who told me that he was in a meeting with Trump right before he married Melania. Apparently to this room of lawyers Trump put her on speakerphone and told her to tell the room what she had done for him, sexually, that morning.

    My gut feeling is that he is not sure what they have, but if they do it’s brutal and sadistic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    which means they know that Trump can be bought and American democracy can be subverted with a few Facebook ads, some hacking and some Twitter bots.

    Tonight’s election returns suggest that is not always reliable knowledge.

    The Russian lawyer’s remarks are probably a threat that she can prove her claims, should Trump get out of line. Proof that Trump is Putin’s bitch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Franklin says:

    MBunge still not here? Fascinating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    Take Veselnitskaya statements with a grain of salt, since they are likely part of an ongoing Kremlin program to sow chaos? The statements can be true and an attempt to sow chaos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: it’s why smart people don’t meet with Russian operatives. And why competent business people don’t let themselves get into these situations. The Trumpistas defense is essentially Donny Boy is stupid and incompetent but that doesn’t mean he’s a traitor. Odd though, that wouldn’t explain why he’s been behaving like Putin’s frightened and abused mistress for the past 18 months…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. wr says:

    @Franklin: “MBunge still not here? Fascinating.”

    He’s busy writing a long explanation of how the Virginia results were not only a disaster for Democrats, but actually a deliberate strategic move from Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. KM says:

    I think the Pee tape is not only possible, but I suspect there is much worse.

    Oh definitely. We’re about to learn just what the tolerance limits are for perviness in a President. Right now, evangelicals and other moral purists are willing to look the other way but if actual video their kids can see comes out they’re gonna need to make a choice. Fundies, Mormons, old-fashioned tight-asses, you name it – Clinton got massive crap for a BJ. If Trump shows up in either end of a golden shower, in leather or god forbid, a gimp suit, the collective pearl clutching will either break the Internet or be the greatest effort to sublimate outrage this nation has ever seen.

    It will be interesting times in curse sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. al-Ameda says:

    This is the first time Veselnitskaya has offered details of her version of the June 2016 sit-down at Trump Tower. Her willingness to testify highlights the precarious position of Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who were all in attendance at the meeting, which didn’t become public until after Trump took office. The eldest Trump son eagerly accepted an invitation to the meeting, which was billed as an opportunity to receive Russian government “dirt” on Clinton.

    Alan Futerfas, Trump Jr.’s attorney, told Bloomberg that his client had no comment on the interview.

    As Veselnitskaya recalled, Trump Jr. offered to review the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on a group of Russian officials implicated in the murder of a Russian accountant who exposed widespread government tax fraud. The law is a particular irritant to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who retaliated against its passage by barring Americans from adopting Russian children.

    “Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,” Veselnitskaya told Bloomberg, allegedly quoting Trump Jr

    Honest to god, it turns out that all of those people who have compared Donald Trump Jr. to ‘Fredo’ were right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. CSK says:

    @KM:

    The Trumpkins won’t believe a pee tape even if they’re forced to view it. It’ll be fake news. Or they’ll claim that Mitch McConnell and Hillary Clinton found Trump’s doppelganger and paid him a million bucks to act in a pee tape.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Franklin says:

    Personally, I doubt the existence of the pee tape. The hype just reminds me of Michelle Obama’s “Whitey” tape, which of course didn’t exist.

    I can’t remember a case in the age of YouTube where somebody promised a video which wasn’t already available. (Heck, this statement almost even applies to professional video like TV shows and movies.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. CET says:

    @MarkedMan:

    it’s why smart people don’t meet with Russian operatives.

    Agreed. My knowledge of intelligence operations is entirely of the ‘armchair’ variety, but my sense is that one of the oldest ways to recruit an agent is to fool them into doing something deeply incriminating and to hold the evidence as a blackmail threat.

    I find it interesting that Russian intelligence is making this public…I doubt they’ll actually reveal any hard evidence though. My bet is that they’ll hold the tapes over Trump’s head for leverage, while also stoking internal US political divisions by leaking just enough to convince anti-Trump folks that he’s guilty as hell and pro-Trump folks that it’s all part of a big plot by Democrats/The Clintons/George Soros/Illuminati/The Stonecutter’s Guild/Etc.

    I expect fragments to surface in weird places on the internet, but nothing that will be reliable enough to use as evidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CET:

    but my sense is that one of the oldest ways to recruit an agent is to fool them into doing something deeply incriminating and to hold the evidence as a blackmail threat.

    It’s normally a progressive timeline, which begins with a seemingly innocuous thing, some simple act which could be rationalized as being benign, but which in fact is illegal.

    Once that hook has been set, fear of being exposed enables the handler to drive the resource to commit far more egregious acts of betrayal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0