Donald Trump Jr. agreed in 2016 to meet with a lawyer who was linked to the Kremlin after he was told she “might have information helpful to the campaign,” the son of the president admitted in a statement Sunday.
The younger Trump indicated that his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign boss Paul Manafort attended the meeting, which took place as the presidential contest was heating up in June 2016.
Trump Jr.’s statement is significant because the Trump campaign is facing multiple investigations into whether it colluded with Moscow. The Kremlin last year used various means to try to influence the American election, according to an official finding shared by effectively all of America’s federal intelligence agencies.
Trump Jr. on Sunday did not identify the Moscow-connected attorney, but said he was asked to meet with her by “an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.”
“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, but if he was hoping for something of use, he was disappointed.
“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 said.
“My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events,” Trump Jr. said.
The president’s son put out his statement following a report in the New York Times that said he held the meeting after learning the attorney had information potentially damaging to the campaign of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. initially told the Times on Saturday that the meeting with the lawyer involved issues around the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens — he subsequently added the disclosure about how the meeting focused on what she had to offer the Trump campaign in his statement on Sunday.
At the height of the campaign, a massive trove of emails from the Democratic National Committee were leaked to Wikileaks, which roiled the Clinton campaign. Russian hackers are widely suspected as having been behind the leak.
Questions about Russia’s role in influencing the 2016 election continue to reverberate across Washington and have undermined the White House’s credibility.
A representative of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election, declined CNBC’s request for comment.
President Trump last week had his first face-to-face encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stands accused of meddling in the 2016 general election.
Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer after she dangled information that could help his dad's campaign