It is thought to be the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Donald Trump’s inner circle.
After the New York Times first reported the meeting on July 8, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement which confirmed that it had taken place but did not mention whether it was related to the presidential campaign.
However, another Times report, on the next day, said Donald Trump Jr. had agreed to the meeting after being offered information that would potentially prove detrimental to Hillary Clinton.
The newspaper cited three White House advisers briefed on the meeting, and two others with knowledge for it, as its sources.
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Donald Trump Jr. said that an acquaintance he had known from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant had set up the meeting. The Washington Post confirmed that figure to be music publicist Rob Goldstone, who has links to the Russian music industry.
In a statement on July 9, Donald Trump Jr. said he had been asked to meet “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.”
Donald Trump Jr.’s statement continues: “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. 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.”
Natalia Veselnitskaya said on July 8 that “nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign” and insisted she had “never acted on behalf of the Russian government and have never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government”.
The Magnitsky Act was adopted by Congress in 2012 and allows the US to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian officials thought to have been involved in human rights violations.
The law so incensed President Vladimir Putin that he suspended a program allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.
Natalia Veselnitskaya is a lawyer whose clients include companies and individuals said to be close to the Kremlin and her main role has been campaigning against the Magnitsky Act.