A new email from a Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign seems to confirm statements from both that their meeting focused mostly on U.S. sanctions, and not about possibly damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya sent the email to British publicist Rob Goldstone the morning of the June 9, 2016, the day of her meeting at Trump Tower with Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The message, included in an email exchange between Veselnitskaya and Goldstone that was obtained by CNN, provides additional context about the Russian lawyer's assertions the meeting was about the Magnistky Act, a 2012 law that punished Russian human rights abusers.
Veselnitskaya's claims contrast with an email Goldstone sent to Trump Jr. pitching the June 2016 meeting. In his email to the president's eldest son, Goldstone said the Russian lawyer had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
But in the email sent to Goldstone hours before the meeting at Trump Tower was set to take place, Veselnitskaya asked Goldstone if she could bring a "trusted associate and lobbyist," Rinat Akhmetshin, to the meeting because of his expertise on the Magnitsky Act. Veselnitskaya said Akhmetshin "is working to advance these issues with several congressmen."
"He has invaluable knowledge about the positions held by the members of the Foreign Relations committee that will be very important to our discussion," Veselnitskaya wrote.
The Russian lawyer also said Akhmetshin and her translator, Anatoli Samochornov, who also attended the meeting, signed non-disclosure agreements, though it's unclear why.
CNN obtained the email exchange and a five-page talking points memo from May 2016 about why the Magnitsky Act should be repealed from Scott Balber, a lawyer representing Aras Agalarov, a wealthy Russian real estate investor who helped orchestrate the Trump Tower meeting.
Balber is also representing Emin Agalarov, Aras Agalarov's son, who asked the publicist to set up the Trump Tower meeting.
"The documents and what she told me are consistent with my client's understanding of the purpose of the meeting, which was from the beginning and at all times thereafter about her efforts to launch a legislative review of the Magnitsky Act," Balber told CNN of Veselnitskaya.
The email raises questions about why Goldstone pitched the meeting to Trump Jr. as a way to talk about Clinton. Balber, who traveled to Moscow to get the documents from the Russian lawyer, and said Goldstone "probably exaggerated and maybe willfully contorted the facts or the purpose of making the meeting interesting to the Trump people," according to CNN.
In one email the British publicist sent to Trump Jr. pitching the meeting, Goldstone said the Russians could provide the Trump campaign with "some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."
"If it's what you say, I love it," Trump Jr. replied.
Trump Jr.'s emails with Goldstone, and the subsequent meeting at Trump Tower, has been of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as investigations currently being conducted by several congressional committees.
In addition to the circumstances surrounding the meeting, Mueller is also looking into President Trump's role in drafting Trump Jr.'s initial statement about the meeting stating the Trump Tower meeting was about Russian adoptions.
Trump Jr. met with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators last month and said the meeting was "primarily focused on Russian adoptions."
But the president's eldest son told the committee he decided to attend the meeting because "to the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out."