Russian lawyer says Trump Jr. 'disappointed' she didn't have Clinton dirt

Veselnitskaya acknowledged that Trump Jr. expected her to present Clinton intel.

ByABC News
July 12, 2017, 10:57 PM

— -- The Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump's eldest son last year said she never tried to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and denied offering him information from the Russian government.

In an interview with ABC News in Moscow Wednesday, Natalia Veselnitskaya acknowledged that Donald Trump Jr. had expected her to present him with incriminating information about Hillary Clinton when they met at Trump Tower in New York City in June 2016. But she called the situation a misunderstanding, claiming she had no idea how it happened.

"I think he was misled about my role, myself and about my request to everyone," Veselnitskaya told ABC News. "I have never had compromising materials on Hillary Clinton. I have never pronounced such a word."

Veselnitskaya also claimed Trump Jr. was "disappointed" when she didn’t provide such information.

"I don't know if he was upset or not. He did not show any emotion, but maybe he was disappointed I didn't turn out to be the person that was possibly presented to him in a totally different light," she said. "My sense is there was disappointment and nothing more."

Veselnitskaya was unclear about how her meeting with Trump Jr., who has confirmed that the meeting occurred, came about. She told ABC News that a Russian speaker, whose name she could not recall, contacted her via telephone, saying he worked for publicist Rob Goldstone and that he was organizing a meeting between her and Trump Jr.

She said the caller may not have identified himself and if he did, she forgot his name.

"Told me the place and the time to come. That was it. Who it was, I do not know," Veselnitskaya said.

Veselnitskaya’s version of events appeared to differ from that of Trump Jr.’s, who on Tuesday tweeted four pages of what he said is an email exchange with Goldstone last summer. The messages appear to show Goldstone offering Trump Jr. damning information from the "Crown prosecutor of Russia." Goldstone wrote that the information "is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." In response, Trump Jr. wrote, "I love it."

The emails preceded the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Veselnitskaya, as well as then-campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

"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," Trump Jr. said in a statement Sunday, seemingly referring to Veselnitskaya.

"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," he continued. "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."

Trump Jr. has maintained that his father had no knowledge of the meeting.

Veselnitskaya told ABC News that Manafort was sitting next to Trump Jr. at the meeting in Trump Tower. She said she did not specifically remember Kushner being present but recalled a young man who eventually left the gathering.

When asked how Trump Jr. may have gotten the impression that she potentially had damaging information on Clinton, Veselnitskaya said she did not know. She claimed she was already planning to travel to New York City for a client's appeals hearing in June 2016. She said she went to the meeting at Trump Tower wanting to discuss the Russian adoption ban and the Magnitsky Act, which was enacted by President Barack Obama's administration in 2012, and hoping to get help to start an investigation in Congress.

"The fact that it is Trump’s son was interesting for me only because he was supported by Republicans. And as we understand, Congress is represented by the majority of the Republicans," Veselnitskaya told ABC News. "He wanted to hear from me something that I didn't say. So he was disappointed because I didn't say it, and I was disappointed because they said we can't help you."

The New York Times broke a story on Monday claiming that Trump Jr. had been notified via email that his forthcoming meeting with Veselnitskaya was part of a Russian government effort to boost his father’s chances of winning the presidency.

Trump Jr. seemed to confirm parts of The New York Times report when he tweeted an email chain showing him making plans to meet with a “Russian government attorney,” although Veselnitskaya was not mentioned by name in the chain.

The younger Trump also spoke about his meeting with Veselnitskaya late Tuesday during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, saying that he "probably would have done things a little differently" in hindsight.

The president defended his eldest son, saying in a statement Tuesday, "My son is a high-quality person, and I applaud his transparency."

ABC News' Anastasia Butler, Alexander Gurvets and Tanya Stukalova contributed to this report.

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