Donald Trump was unaware of his son’s Russian link

Published: 13:18 GMT, Jul 12, 2017 |

A controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer was facilitated by a colorful collection of associates who can be traced back to a Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013.

The meeting adds four more characters to President Donald Trump’s complex web of Russian ties, a thorny issue that has dogged the President’s first months in office and has prompted formal investigations.

The New York Times first reported the meeting between lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Trump’s eldest son, who was joined by Trump’s campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Trump Jr. on Tuesday released what he described as the full email chain between him and Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who set up the June 9, 2016 meeting.

The emails largely confirmed the New York Times story from Monday that said Trump Jr. was told before the meeting that Veselnitskaya was linked to the Kremlin and had damaging information about Hillary Clinton that came from the Russian government. Veselnitskaya denies having Kremlin links.

Trump Jr. published the emails only after the New York Times had obtained them and reached out to Trump Jr. for comment on Tuesday.

Veselnitskaya is a Russian national who actively lobbied internationally against the Magnitsky Act, a law passed in 2012 that targeted Russians implicated in corruption and human rights abuses.

The law imposed sanctions and banned some Russians from entering the US or using US banking systems.

In a tit-for-tat response to the Magnitsky Act, the Russian government banned the adoption by US families of Russian children.

Veselnitskaya is the founder of a non-governmental organization called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation.