On the eve of a new round of hearings in the House of Representatives into the connections between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and Russia — which House Democrats plan to open on Monday according to The Associated Press — Sunday saw the third anniversary of one of the most significant and controversial events to draw the attention of investigators in the Russia scandal. On June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., along with Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and then-Campaign Chair Paul Manafort, met in New York’s Trump Tower with a group of Kremlin-linked Russians who has offered the campaign allegedly “incriminating” information about Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Leading the Russian delegation was lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who as Inquisitr later reported, admitted to serving as an “informant” for a top Kremlin official close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The meeting fit an overall pattern for the campaign, which at various levels had at least 272 unreported contacts with Russians and Russia-linked operatives, according to The Moscow Project.
But the Trump Tower meeting on this date three years ago appears to be one of the most significant of those contacts, due to an existing paper trail and testimony showing that the meeting was set up on the promise that Russia could deliver “negative information” on Clinton in exchange for relief of the economic sanctions imposed under the Magnitsky Act, according to CNN. Such a “quid pro quo” would appear to be evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia. But special counsel Robert Mueller said in his report that he found nothing that he could charge as criminal related to the meeting.
The Magnitsky Act allows the United States to impose economic sanctions on Russian individuals suspected of human rights violations and other crimes, and lifting those sanctions has been a high priority for Putin, according to a Washington Post report.
Did then-candidate Donald Trump know about the meeting before it happened? The answer to that question remains a mystery, as special counsel Robert Mueller was not able to establish whether or not Trump had advance knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting. But as Inquisitr has reported, just two days before the meeting, Trump announced that he would deliver a major speech exposing supposed criminal wrongdoing by Clinton.
Following the meeting, which the participants later claimed did not yield the promised negative Clinton information, Trump abruptly switched the topic of his planned speech to address international terrorism. In his investigative report, posted online by The New York Times, Mueller wrote that he “did not find evidence that the original idea for the speech was connected to the anticipated June 9 meeting,” or that Trump’s abrupt change of topic was related to the failure of the meeting to deliver the promised incriminating information on Clinton.
In an interview last week, Kushner himself dismissed the meeting as “a clown show,” as quoted by ABC News.