Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin last spring, just after candidate Donald Trump Sr. clinched the Republican nomination for the presidency, ABC News has confirmed.
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According to a report first published Saturday by The New York Times, citing confidential government records that were described to the newspaper, Donald Trump Jr., Kushner and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney, met at Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016.
A source familiar with this meeting confirmed to ABC News that Trump and Kushner met with Veselnitskaya. The source said the campaign was not discussed; it is unclear at this time what was discussed at the 2016 meeting. The same source described the Times report as accurate. The Times reports that the meeting was also attended by Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump Sr.'s campaign chairman at the time.
This is the first confirmation of a meeting between Trump family members and Russians during his campaign for the presidency.
Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday described the meeting as brief and said it mostly concerned Americans' ability to adopt Russian children.
"It was a short introductory meeting," Trump said in a statement. "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 that 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," he added.
The meeting was only disclosed by Kushner recently, when the senior White House aide re-submitted a form necessary for his security clearance. Kushner's attorney Jamie Gorelick released a statement on Saturday regarding the revelation, explaining that the form was originally submitted before it should have been.
"As we have previously stated, Mr. Kushner's SF-86 was prematurely submitted and, among other errors, did not list any contacts with foreign government officials," he said in the statement.
"The next day, Mr. Kushner submitted supplemental information stating that he had had 'numerous contacts with foreign officials' about which he would be happy to provide additional information. He has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition," the statement said.
"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.," the statement continued. "As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows."
Veselnitskaya is best known for her work against the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 bill that blocks certain Russian officials' entrance to the U.S. and their use of the U.S. banking system.
The Magnitsky Act was largely a response to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. Magnitsky was killed by Russian police after he uncovered a huge tax fraud scheme linked to the top levels of the Russian state. The act serves as a blacklist that targets Russian officials involved in the murder and its cover-up.
After the act was passed, Russia stopped allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.