Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the heart of Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial meeting in June of 2016, said she would have reached out to Hillary Clinton if there was any possibility of her easing sanctions should she win the presidency. Trump Jr.’s meeting was portrayed as proof of collusion, though some, like CBS News’s John Dickerson, referred it more accurately as “collusion curious.” It’s not a smoking gun. It’s still lacks the solid evidence of collusion that Democrats are looking for post-2016.
Trump Jr. has been adamant that he would have handled this meeting differently in hindsight, but no 2016 business was discussed and it turned out to be a massive waste of time. The focus of the meeting centered on the Magnitsky Act, which is much hated in Russia to the point where upon its passage, Putin banned U.S. adoption and even barred some U.S. officials from entering the country. Jared Kushner was there briefly, but left shortly, while Paul Manafort just looked at his phone. The reason this meeting is controversial is because the publicist of the Russian pop star helped arrange this meeting supposedly under the pretense that the Russian government had some dirt on Clinton.
Via Fox News:
The Russian attorney whose 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. fueled allegations of campaign collusion told Fox News on Wednesday that she would have made contact with Hillary Clinton as well if she thought the Democratic nominee could help Moscow in its anti-sanctions push.
The assertion came as newly revealed email correspondence further undermined previous reports that the Trump Tower meeting was set up to discuss damaging information about Clinton.
“I had never been looking for a meeting neither with Trump Jr., nor Sr., nor his team,” Veselnitskaya told Fox News in an email, sent in Russian and translated to English by her translator. Veselnitskaya wrote, however, that she “had been told” Trump Jr. “could help” her bring information to members of Congress about the Magnitsky Act, which Moscow adamantly opposed.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on correspondence between Veselnitskaya and Goldstone, likewise suggesting the meeting was not set up to pass on damaging information about Clinton on behalf of the Russian government.
While Veselnitskaya -- in correspondence at the time and comments made more recently -- has countered claims that the meeting might have dealt with Clinton dirt, that narrative emerged thanks to the originally published correspondence between Trump Jr. and Goldstone.
Goldstone said at the time that he could set up a meeting to provide “very high level and sensitive information” compromising Clinton’s election chances as part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“If it’s what you say, I love it,” Trump Jr. wrote in response.
It remains unclear what Goldstone was referring to.
As with most stories on this subject, it died. There was no “there, there.” Moreover, constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley aptly noted that what occurred was not illegal, nor was it treason.
“There is no crime in listening to people who say that they have incriminating information on a political opponent, even a foreigner," he wrote at the time. “This is a matter that is worthy of investigation. However, these possible criminal charges are radically over-extended on the facts that we currently have.” The charge Democrats were lobbing was treason. Wrong again.