Gage Skidmore / Flickr donad trump jr...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

This stuff just keeps flowing like a backed-up toilet. The New York Times reports:

Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously undisclosed meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald J.Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.

The lawyer in question, according to the Times, was Natalia Veselnitskaya. She is married to a former deputy transportation minister for the Moscow region and has for clients state-owned businesses and a high Russian official’s son who was under investigation in the United States at the time she met with the junior Trump. A senior law enforcement official told the Times that the FBI had taken an interest in Veselnitskaya’s activities as well as her associations.

She’s renowned for campaigning against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that blacklists Russian abusers of human rights. The act is named for Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer and daughter who died “under mysterious circumstances” in a Russian prison eight years ago after revealing a huge corruption scandal during Vladimir Putin’s rule. 

The Magnitsky act irked Putin so much that he ended a popular program that smoothed the way for Americans wanting to adopt Russian children. Donald Jr. said the discussion at the meeting with Veselnitskaya focused on the adoption impasse. 

In the past, Donald Jr., Kushner, and Manafort have all been coy about their contacts with Russian officials. In March, Donald Jr. told the Times had had no meetings with Russian nationals. The newspaper revealed subsequently that this was false—he had done so. Kushner consequently redid a government form he had submitted to obtain a security clearance for his job as a senior White House aide. 

Admitting to having meetings is one thing. Americans, however, would benefit greatly if there were tape recordings or transcripts or even hand-written notes (like ex-FBI chief James Comey’s) detailing the conversations at meetings Kushner, Trump Jr., and Manafort had with Veselnitskaya and other prominent Russians. If such exist, however, they probably long ago found their way to a burn bag and oblivion.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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