The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in June 2016 recently provided the Senate Judiciary Committee with answers to questions about the meeting, according to NBC News.
Her responses point to some of the most damning evidence yet that Donald Trump Jr. actively attempted to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton through Russian government officials.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who attended the meeting, told the committee that Trump Jr. asked for evidence of illegal donations made to the Clinton Foundation. Veselnitskaya said that told the attendees, including Jared Kushner and recently indicted Paul Manafort, that she did not have such information.
Veselnitskaya claimed that Trump Jr. misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from music promoter Rob Goldstone promising incriminating information on Clinton.
“Today, I understand why it took place to begin with and why it ended so quickly with a feeling of mutual disappointment and time wasted. The answer lies in the roguish letters of Mr. Goldstone.”
“On Behalf of the Russian Government”
In time, the exchange has proven quite damaging to Trump Jr. himself. Goldstone is music promoter who worked for a family of Russian oligarchs with ties to both the Kremlin and the Trump family. In hindsight, he agrees that he exaggerated his claims.
The promoter presented Veselnitskaya as a “Russian government lawyer” who had dirt on Clinton as part of an effort on behalf of the Russian government to help Trump. While Goldstone’s offer fell through, Trump Jr.’s willingness to accept the offer might be the clearest evidence yet that he was actively looking for ways to work with the Russian government to achieve his goals.
Veselnitskaya’s 51-page statement comes off as a bit self-serving. She notes that she regrets throwing both the Trump and the Clintons into a “whirlwind” of political accusations and fueling the fire of “hatred for Russia.”
But here’s why her account remains absolutely relevant: even if Veselnitskaya is lying about the nature of the meeting to save her own reputation, Trump Jr.’s actions do not look any better. He accepted an invitation allegedly on behalf of the Russian government to receive information that could damage his father’s opponent. If that isn’t an attempt at collusion to sway an election, then what is?
Both the Senate committees and special counsel Robert Mueller have been investigating the meeting that took place at Trump Tower. There are assuredly more developments to come.