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Donald Trump Jr. and Kushner Met With Russian Lawyer During Campaign

President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer reportedly linked to the Kremlin during the campaign.
Image: Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr. campaigns for his father Donald Trump in Gilbert, Arizona on November 4, 2016.Matt York / AP file

President Donald Trump’s eldest son and his son-in-law Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin during the presidential campaign, it was reported Saturday.

The New York Times reported that Donald Trump Jr., Kushner, and Trump's campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, met with the lawyer at Trump tower on June 9, 2016.

Kushner's attorney and Trump Jr. confirmed the meeting to NBC News. Trump Jr. characterized it as a "short introductory meeting” and said they primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children which was ended by the Russian government.

"It was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up," Trump Jr. said. He said "I asked Jared and Paul to stop by."

"I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand," Trump Jr. said.

But the meeting with people close to Trump could raise further questions about the contacts of those close to Trump with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind a covert plan to try and interfere in the presidential election to try and help Trump win. Russia has repeatedly denied the claims. Trump and other Republicans have claimed the alleged meddling did not affect the election’s outcome.

Trump in Poland this week did not definitively blame Russia, saying "I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and or countries."

The Times identified the lawyer in the meeting as Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian national known for fighting against the Magnitsky Act, a law passed by Congress in 2012 that froze the U.S. assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors said to have been involved in the detention and death of whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison in 2009.

In retaliation, Moscow barred Americans from adopting Russian children.

Kushner attorney Jamie Gorelick confirmed the meeting but called it brief and said he was asked to attend by Trump Jr.

Gorelick said that Kushner left the meeting and other meetings off of a national security questionnaire, the SF-86, that was filed prematurely, and has since provided supplemental information including about the June meeting reported by the Times.

"Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr.," Gorelick said. "As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows."

The House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, and whether there was any collusion with anyone on the campaign. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.