As Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller waits to hand down his next set of indictments in the ongoing probe into possible collusion between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence last year’s election, a new possible target emerged on Monday morning — Trump’s own son, Donald Trump Jr. The possibility that Trump Jr.’s name might be next on the indictment list would be connected to the stunning revelation by a Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. that he offered to trade a major policy shift toward Russia for damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
On June 9, 2016, Trump Jr., along with his brother-in-law Jared Kushner — a top campaign and now White House adviser — and the campaign’s now-indicted Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, met with a group of Russians spearheaded by Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, 42.
Veselnitskaya has said that she attended the meeting to lobby against the Magnitsky Act, a major Russia sanctions law that hits top Russian officials and oligarchs where it hurts — in their bank accounts. The law freezes overseas assets and restricts international travel for a number of super-rich Russians, rendering their large overseas investments — often made with stolen or questionable funds — worthless, at least in countries that have enacted Magnitsky Act sanctions, including the United States.
But according to an explosive interview with Veselnitskaya published Monday by Bloomberg News and accessible to read at this link, at that meeting, Trump Jr. offered to change the law if his father were elected president — in exchange for information that would hurt Clinton.
Trump Jr. took the meeting — along with Kushner and Manafort — after receiving an email from an associate of the Agalarov family, who were and reportedly remain Trump’s partners in a so-far unrealized deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow real estate development. The email promised that Russians at the meeting would offer damaging information about Clinton that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. quickly agreed to take the meeting, replying, “If it’s what you say, I love it.”
Now, in her Bloomberg News interview, Veselnitskaya says she had information linking a billionaire Democratic donor to a tax evasion scheme in Russia, but Trump Jr. wanted documentation that some of the donor’s illegal cash had been funneled to the Clinton campaign. If she could provide it, Trump Jr. said, his father would “think what to do about” the sanctions law, if he “came to power,” according to the Russian lawyer’s account.
“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,” Trump Jr. told the Russians, the lawyer said. “I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it.”
Though Veselnitskaya has denied that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government when she took the meeting, recently uncovered evidence shows that the “talking points” that she brought to Trump Tower in New York that day were identical to a list of points used months earlier by Russia’s top prosecutor, Yuri Chaika — an indication, according to a New York Times report, that the memo was created from inside the Kremlin itself, and that the lawyer was acting as a Kremlin emissary when she met with Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort.
Veselnitskaya has offered to repeat her statements about Trump Jr. in congressional testimony, as well as to Mueller.
Shortly after the June 9, 2016, meeting was reported publicly earlier this year, Trump Jr. issued a statement containing a false account of topics discussed at the meeting — a statement that turned out to have been dictated by his father, the elder Donald Trump. Mueller is now investigating how and why Trump Jr.’s false statement about the Russia meeting was issued.
News reporters have noticed that the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., still has four sealed cases on its docket that may have been filed by Mueller. Those cases could be further indictments in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation because their case numbers fall between the Manafort indictment and the guilty plea by another Trump adviser George Papadopoulos.
While former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as Kushner, have been rumored to be targets of the next Mueller indictments, the new revelations Monday may point toward Donald Trump Jr.’s name also appearing on the indictment list.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]