The Slatest

Trump Jr. Tells Senate Investigators That He Met With Russian Lawyer to Check Clinton’s “Fitness” for Office

Donald Trump Jr. delivers a speech during a ceremony for the official opening of the Trump International Tower and Hotel on Feb. 28 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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The New York Times is reporting that Donald Trump Jr. admitted to Senate investigators on Thursday that a previously reported meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya—the June 2016 one at Trump Tower also attended by Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, and, on the Russian side, lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, businessman Ike Kaveladze, and translator Anatoli Samochornov—was set up in the hope of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Trump Jr. told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators that “he was intrigued that [Veselnitskaya] might have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, saying it was important to learn about Mrs. Clinton’s ‘fitness’ to be president.”

Trump Jr. also told investigators that he intended to meet with legal counsel after he met with the Russians. From the Times:

The acknowledgment by the president’s eldest son that he intended to seek legal counsel after the meeting suggests that he knew, or at least suspected, that accepting potentially damaging information about a rival campaign from a foreign country raised thorny legal issues. …

Mr. Trump has given differing accounts of his contacts last year with Russians. He told the Times in March that he never met with Russians on behalf of the campaign, a statement his lawyer has since said was meant to refer to Russian government officials. In July, he described the Trump Tower meeting as primarily focused on the issue of Russian adoptions, before eventually acknowledging that he took the meeting because he was told Ms. Veselnitskaya had damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. But intentionally misspeaking to Congress is a crime, giving his statement on Thursday added weight.

As he has said before, Trump Jr. told investigators Thursday that the meeting with Veselnitskaya was a waste of time. “The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out not to be about what had been represented,” he said.