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Trump Jr.'s Story On Why He Met With A Russian Lawyer Raises Questions

11/07/2017 12:19 AM AEST | Updated 11/07/2017 12:19 AM AEST

Over the weekend, the eldest son of President Donald Trump admitted that he met with a lawyer linked to the Russian government last June after being promised damaging information on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The meeting, also reportedly attended by then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, is the first confirmed meeting between Trump's inner circle and Kremlin-linked Russians. It raises new questions as multiple investigations look into whether Trump's campaign colluded with the Russian government to interfere in last year's election.

Donald Trump Jr. initially offered few details about his meeting with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, whose clients have included Russian state-owned businesses and the son of a senior Russian government official. Following The New York Times' initial story about the meeting, the younger Trump said they "primarily discussed" an adoption program.

But just a day later, after the Times revealed more information, he offered a much more substantive description and said the pretext for the meeting was "potentially helpful information" about Clinton.

Here are some questions the two statements raise:

1. Why did Donald Trump Jr. agree to the meeting without knowing the person's name?

"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," he stated on Saturday.

On Sunday, he elaborated that the meeting was initiated by "an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant," then owned by Trump and hosted in Russia that year. The meeting, he said, was "with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign."

He again claimed that "I was not told her name prior to the meeting."

2. Why did he ask Kushner and Manafort to attend the meeting without disclosing the reason for it?

Both statements indicated that the president's son requested that Trump advisers Kushner and Manafort attend the meeting. On Sunday, the younger Trump elaborated that he "told them nothing of the substance" before the meeting.

3. Why did he initially conceal the true motivation for the meeting?

Veselnitskaya "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time," he said on Saturday.

But on Sunday, he admitted that he was promised "information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton."

He also suggested that "the claims of potentially helpful information" were simply meant to lure him into the meeting, which was really about the adoption policy.

"Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information," he added.

"She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting."

"My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events," Donald Trump Jr. also said on Sunday.

On Monday morning, he admitted the meeting was about Clinton, defending it as a typical way to seek out information about a political opponent.

"Went nowhere but had to listen," he said.

Read Donald Trump Jr.'s full statements below.

The statement he released on Saturday:

It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.

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.

The statement he released on Sunday:

I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.

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