World

Lawyer who met Trump's son: I have no Kremlin ties

Trump's eldest son met Russian lawyer before US presidential election

WASHINGTON: Mr Donald Trump's eldest son admitted on Monday to meeting a Russian lawyer in a bid to get dirt on his father's 2016 US presidential election rival Hillary Clinton, plunging the White House into another Russia-related scandal.

Mr Donald Trump Jr confirmed reports that he was seeking compromising information on Mrs Clinton when he met Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016.

"Obviously, I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent," the president's son said sardonically in a tweet.

He claimed that the meeting "went nowhere" but he "had to listen".

The New York Times reported that Mr Paul Manafort and Mr Jared Kushner were also at the June 2016 meeting.

The pair were two of Mr Trump's most trusted campaign officials, and Mr Kushner - also the president's son-in-law - became part of the White House inner circle after the inauguration.

In a potentially even more damaging revelation, the New York Times reported later on Monday that the younger Trump had been informed via e-mail ahead of the meeting that material from the Russian lawyer was part of an effort by Moscow to aid his father's presidential bid and hurt Mrs Clinton.

But Ms Veselnitskaya told NBC news she had no Kremlin ties and wanted to discuss US sanctions on Russian officials, not Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

"I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton," Ms Natalia Veselnitskaya told NBC News in an interview in Moscow. "It was never my intention to have that."

DAMAGING

Ms Veselnitskaya said she did not know why Mr Trump Jr believed she was planning to offer damaging information about Mrs Clinton, adding she only knew he was willing to meet with her.

"It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such information," she told NBC. "They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted."

Mr Trump Jr's attorney Alan Futerfas called the New York Times reports "much ado about nothing".

In a statement provided to AFP, Mr Futerfas said the younger Trump had been contacted by an individual named Rob Goldstone, described by the Times as a publicist and former British tabloid reporter.

Mr Goldstone suggested in an e-mail that "people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia," Futerfas said.

Mr Futerfas said Mr Trump Jr. did not know what specific information would be discussed during the meeting, which lasted 20 to 30 minutes.

"Nothing came of it. His father knew nothing about it. The bottom line is that Don Jr did nothing wrong," Mr Futerfas said, adding that his client would cooperate with any investigation.

Russiadonald trumpelection