A review of open-source data indicates then-candidate Donald Trump was inside Trump Tower last year when his eldest son and at least two other top aides huddled with a Russian lawyer they believed had Kremlin-supplied information that could hurt presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
White House and Trump campaign officials, along with the president’s private legal team, have not disputed as of publication time that he was at his Manhattan steel-and-glass haven. That means Trump was nearby — though likely on a different floor — when his son and associates believed they were about to receive information from the Kremlin intended to ding another candidate for the country’s highest office.
“Mr. Mueller will almost certainly want answers, under oath, clarifying whether President Trump was made aware at the time of the existence of the meeting in general, to say nothing of the specific details of the meeting,” said Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, referring to Justice Department special counsel Robert S. Mueller. “He will also want to know whether President Trump was debriefed about the meeting at any time in the aftermath.”
The meeting on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower in New York with Natalia Veselnitskaya — whom a Trump family business associate described to Donald Trump Jr. in an email as a “Russian government attorney” — was premised on her delivering Kremlin-supplied information the associate assured Trump’s eldest son “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
In the June 2016 email exchange, Trump Jr. replied, “I love it,” to the associate, entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information,” Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr., “but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
The president, Trump Jr., and others in their orbit have downplayed the significance of the meeting. Trump said Thursday that “most people would have taken that meeting.”
Much surrounding the meeting remains to be disclosed, and lawmakers and experts say Mueller will want to answer those lingering questions.