Trump Jr

The House Intelligence Committee will interview Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, about any direct contact with Russian officials during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

Donald Trump Jr. will testify before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session today, where is he expected to answer questions regarding his meeting with a Russian lawyer and his exchange of direct messages with WikiLeaks during his father’s presidential campaign in 2016.

The Meeting at Trump Tower

On June 9, 2016, two days after Trump became the Republican nominee, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, accompanied by President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, and White House Chief Strategist, and son-in-law to President Trump, Jared Kushner.

The meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was arranged by publicist Rob Goldstone, who had originally told Trump Jr. through an exchange of emails that the meeting would be with a “Russian government attorney,” who would discuss “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

According to the NBC, Rob Goldstone worked for the Agalarov family who “are Russian oligarchs with Kremlin connections who had the business and social ties to the Trump family.”

“If it’s what you say, I love it,” Trump Jr. said in an email responding to Mr. Goldstone’s offer to arrange a meeting.

In a later email from Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr., the subject line of which reads “Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” Mr. Goldstone writes to Mr. Trump Jr.: “Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info – you had mentioned early this week so wanted to try to schedule a time and day.”

From the exchange of emails between Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, it is evident that Trump Jr. went into the meeting at Trump Tower fully expecting to receive information on Hillary Clinton that would contribute to his father’s election victory. However, in a closed-door interview with Senate Judiciary Committee staff this September, Trump Jr. denied collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Natalia Veselnitskayam, the Russian lawyer, also claims that she was not operating on behalf of the Russian government when she met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower that day.

The Lawyer’s Statement

In a testimony before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Nov 20, Veselnitskayam told the Senate panel she did not work for the Russian government nor had she relayed any messages from the Kremlin.

The Russian lawyer also stated that she believes Trump Jr. “misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from a music promoter promising incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent.”

Veselnitskayam claims that her motive for arranging the meeting was spurred by a desire to examine “the real circumstances behind the Magnitsky Act,” a US law that enabled the U.S. to impose sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations. The Magnitsky Act later banned the adoption of Russian children by Americans in 2012.

The Russian lawyer described how she had circulated information regarding her interest in the Magnitsky Act to friends and friends of friends, seeking meetings with anyone who could help facilitate testimony before Congress.

“I never asked anybody for a particular meeting with Mr. Donald Trump Jr., or with anybody else,” Veselnitskayam said.

The meeting at Trump Tower lasted 20-30 minutes, but according to Veselnitskayam, Trump Jr. seemed to lose interest once he realized the information he sought was not available.

“Today, I understand why it took place, to begin with and why it ended so quickly with a feeling of mutual disappointment and time wasted,” Veselnitskaya wrote in her statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The answer lies in the roguish letters of Mr. Goldstone.”

Rob Goldstone will be interviewed by the House committee later this month regarding his emails to Trump Jr.

The DMs with WikiLeaks

In the meeting with the House Intelligence Committee today, Trump Jr. is also expected to face questioning about his exchange of direct messages with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

WikiLeaks first made contact with Trump Jr. in late September 2016 and last month, after a report by The Atlantic, Trump Jr. publically admitted to exchanging direct messages with representatives of WikiLeaks through Twitter from September 2016 to July 2017.

Trump tweeted screenshots of the exchanges with WikiLeaks over Twitter’s direct message system after initial reports of his communications with WikiLeaks surfaced.


The Muller Investigation and Deutsche Bank

In related news, Deutsche Bank, one of Trump’s longest standing lenders, has begun sending information about its dealings with Donald Trump to US prosecutors investigating the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential race, according to a report by the Financial Times. The report states that the bank’s compliance to sending information about the US president’s finances follows a subpoena by Robert Mueller, the head of the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.

Jay Sekulow, President Trump’s lawyer, denies that Mueller had subpoenaed any of the president’s financial records. “We have confirmed that the news reports that the special counsel has subpoenaed financial records relating to the president are false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also denied claims that Mueller had subpoenaed financial records held by the Trump family from the German bank.

“We’ve confirmed this with the bank and other sources” that it is not true, Sanders told reporters at a press briefing on Dec 5. “I think this is another example of the media going too far, too fast and we don’t see it going in that direction.”

However, according to the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Deutsche Bank did receive a subpoena from Robert Mueller several weeks ago requesting information about the president’s financial accounts.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment but stated that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter”.

Yeji is covering the White House.

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