Trump Jr. emails: Russia’s Lavrov says US making ‘an elephant out of a fly’
CNN —Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was “wild” that Donald Trump Jr. was under fire for meeting with a Russian lawyer, taking a swipe at the latest scandal to rock the White House.
The eldest son of US President Donald Trump has come under intense scrutiny this week after it emerged that he met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last year during the election campaign.
The meeting was first reported by The New York Times, which claimed that the lawyer was linked to the Kremlin and had promised Trump Jr. damaging information on his father’s political rival, Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. on Tuesday released an email exchange between himself and Rob Goldstone, a British national who facilitated the meeting, which appeared to confirm the New York Times story that Veselnitskaya was offering information on Clinton.
In that email exchange, it was made clear to Trump Jr. that he would meet with a Russian government attorney and that the information was “sensitive” and “part of Russia and its government’s support” for the Trump campaign.
The lawyer, Veselnitskaya, and the Kremlin have both denied the lawyer works on behalf of the government.
“I learned with amazement that a Russian lawyer, a woman, is accused, or Trump’s son, is accused of having communicated with her. Well, for me this is wild, by and large. Because when any person communicates with a lawyer, well, what kind of problem can there be? What is the threat to someone?” Lavrov said at a news conference in Brussels with the Belgian Foreign Minister.
He said he heard about the case on television and that “all the Western television channels are only talking about this.”
“It’s amazing how serious people can make an elephant out of a fly, and maybe there was no fly.”
‘Don’t drag us into this TV show’: Moscow
Moscow has dismissed the issue, saying there is “nothing to investigate” in Veselnitskaya’s contact with Trump Jr.
“There is nothing to fuel really, this is all just another spin, which understandably happened right after the bilateral meeting,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday during a regular call with journalists, when asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was angered by yet another Russia-related controversy.
Trump’s administration has been battered by repeated controversies involving ties between his campaign team and Russia, as well as allegations that Moscow meddled in the election to boost Trump’s chance of winning.
Both Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya deny information about Clinton was shared at the meeting, but whether or not it was, the meeting shows that Trump Jr. was keen to accept seek sensitive information about his father’s political opponent during the election campaign from a person he was told was a Russian government lawyer.
The Kremlin and the White House have repeatedly denied and ridiculed allegations that Russian officials and Trump campaign advisers colluded to secure Trump’s election win.
Russia has responded in a similar fashion to news of the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya.
“It reminds (us) of a TV show that drags on a little bit too long and it can compete with the most successful US TV shows. But again, I repeat — don’t drag us into this TV show. We don’t act nor participate in such TV shows,” Peskov told CNN during the call.
When CNN asked if Veselnitskaya would be investigated for being presented as a Russian government lawyer, Peskov said: “How can a lawyer officially represent the Russian government? The lawyer can represent the Russian government if he takes part in a case on behalf of the Russian government where the Russian government is either plaintiff or defendant. But that’s not the case now. Therefore, this question is inappropriate and absurd.”
It remains unknown what exactly went on in the meeting, though Trump Jr. has said the lawyer had no “meaningful information” to offer regarding the Clinton campaign.
Trump Jr. said they discussed the Russian adoption issue. Veselnitskaya told NBC she was at the meeting to discuss US sanctions that led to an adoption ban.
She has founded an initiative and worked globally to overturn a ban on US citizens’ adoption of Russian children.
Russia used the ban to oppose US sanctions against alleged Russian human rights abusers.
Veselnitskaya has lobbied worldwide to remove those sanctions.
Veselnitskaya denies any connection to the Russian government and said the meeting did not have anything to do with Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.
“When it was suggested that I meet with Donald Trump Jr., I met him in a private situation, it was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate,” Veselnitskaya told CNN.