In less than 24 hours, President Trumpâs eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has given two different explanations for a meeting he held during the 2016 campaign with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who promised to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Trumpâs meeting with that lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was first reported by The New York Times on Saturday. In response, Mr. Trump said the meeting was brief and focused mostly on the issue of adoption.
This was Mr. Trumpâs statement to the news media 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 made reference to Jared Kushner, President Trumpâs son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, the presidentâs former campaign manager.
Mr. Trumpâs version of the meeting changed Sunday, when three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it told The Times that Mr. Trump met Ms. Veselnitskaya after she promised to provide damaging information on Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Trump acknowledged on Sunday that Ms. Veselnitskaya offered him information on Mrs. Clinton but that her statements âmade no senseâ and the information was not âmeaningful.â
This is the statement Mr. Trump gave to the news media 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.
An earlier version of this article misquoted a statement by Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting with a Russian lawyer. He said the meeting mostly focused on the topic of adoption, which “was not a campaign issue.” He did not say it was a campaign issue.