The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., along with members of the Trump campaign team in June 2016, has said she only used the meeting to ask for help and described the meeting as having “nothing to do” with Hillary Clinton.
Natalya Veselnitskaya spoke to a Russian TV station about the meeting, which made international news in July when the New York Times reported on the meeting and described Veselnitskaya as a “Kremlin-connected lawyer.”
Trump Jr., who attended the meeting along with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, later released emails showing that he had taken the meeting in the belief that it would result in compromising information on Hillary Clinton—although he said that no such information was forthcoming.
The revelation of the meeting led to accusations that the Trump team had attempted to collude with Russia over the election, as the pitch to Trump mentioned that the dirt on Clinton was part of a Russian effort to help Trump win in November.
Instead, the conversation reportedly focused on the 2012 Magnitsky Act—an American law that places sanctions on Russian human rights abusers. That law led the Russian government to ban the adoption of Russian babies by American parents. Veselnitskaya has long been an advocate of the repeal of the Magnitsky Act.
According to the Moscow Times, Veselnitskaya told the Rossia-24 channel’s Vesti news program, “I asked for help. Help to spread a story that I had come across in my professional capacity.”
She told the program that she met on behalf of Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, who was reportedly accused of money laundering in the U.S. in connection with the Magnitsky Act. She also said she wanted to tell Trump Jr. about William Browder, the head of Hermitage Capital who successfully lobbied to pass the Magnitsky Act, named after Sergei Magnitsky—who was employed by Browder and died in a Russian prison.
Veselnitskaya accused Browder of a “financial scam,” according to the Times, and described the request as “a completely normal request to everyone who could provide any kind of support in U.S. Congress so that the congressmen would know what really happened in our country with Browder.”
“As I’ve said before, [the meeting] had nothing to do with [Trump’s] rivals or the presidential elections,” Veselnitskaya told the program, according to the Times. “That never happened, that’s not true.”
She also noted that she had not been invited to testify before Congress, despite the immense controversy surrounding the meeting.
“They don’t want the truth there at the moment, they need an enemy,” she said.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY