-Anietie Udobit,Agency reports
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 presidential campaign, denied Tuesday that she did so under the pretext of providing damaging information about Hillary Clinton
“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Veselnitskaya told NBC News through a translator.
“It’s quite possible that maybe they were looking for such information,” she said. “They wanted it so badly.”
Saturday, the New York Times reported Trump Jr. orchestrated the meeting shortly after his father sealed the Republican nomination. Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, currently a top White House adviser, also attended the June 2016 meeting.
In another story Monday night, the Times reported that Trump Jr. was told in an email that the meeting would provide information that “was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”
Though the Times described her as “Kremlin-connected,” but Veselnitskaya insisted to NBC News that she didn’t have ties to the Russian government.
Trump Jr. originally claimed the purpose of the meeting was discussing a Russian adoption program, but later admitted that “claims of potentially helpful information” to the campaign “were a pretext for the meeting.”
“After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” Trump Jr. said in a statement. “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.”
He maintained that the meeting then turned to American adoption of Russian children.
Ongoing investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice seek to answer whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in order to influence the election. Among other things, the U.S. accused the Kremlin of spearheading the hacks that led to WikiLeaks disclosures of politically toxic Democratic emails.
Shortly after NBC News’ interview with Veselnitskaya aired Tuesday, Trump Jr. responded indirectly on Twitter.
“Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”