Today, at a closed door meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Natalia Veselnitskaya explained exactly what “dirt” Donald Trump Jr. tried to get from her at the infamous Trump Tower meeting that took place in June of last year.
From the moment the meeting began, Trump Jr. began to get Veselnitskaya to tell him that she had information on illegal contributions to the Clinton foundation, she told the committee, but she had none.
“Today, I understand why [the meeting] took place to begin with and why it ended so quickly with a feeling of mutual disappointment and time wasted,” read Veselnitskaya’s 51-page prepared testimony. “The answer lies in the roguish letters of Mr. [Rob] Goldstone,” the statement continues, referring to the music promoter who set up the meeting.
Veselnitskaya’s veracity about her intent and knowledge is in question. Widely considered to be, and long positioned as, a lawyer for the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, she insists that she is unaffiliated with the government, and her presence at the meeting was purely about adoption policy.
Self-preservation aside, her statement corroborates an email chain between Trump Jr. and Goldstone showing that the president’s oldest son was intent on using illicit connections with the Russian regime to gain political advantage for his father by getting what he called “dirt” and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The meeting, which was also attended by Trump son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner as well as then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, shows a clear intent by the president’s campaign to collude with a hostile foreign power. Whether or not those attempts bore fruit, we still do not know.
But, if Trump Jr. failed to engage in illegal acts with Russian operatives, we can be certain of this: it’s for his own ineptitude, not for lack of trying.