WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The Trump administration is pushing back on allegations of collusion with the Russians after Donald Trump Jr. changed his story about a meeting with a Russian attorney during the presidential campaign.
Trump Jr. admits he met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 because she claimed to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskaya has possible ties to the Kremlin.
Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya offered information on “individuals connected to Russia” who were “funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.” He claims that her “statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense.”
She then reportedly changed the subject, according to Trump Jr, to Russia adoption and U.S. sanctions on Russian human rights abusers.
The meeting was reportedly arranged at the request of Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, who helped bring Donald Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.
Trump Jr. also said his brother in law Jared Kushner and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort were at the meeting and that he asked them to attend but didn’t tell them what the meeting was about. He added that his father knew nothing about the meeting.
The Kremlin said Monday that it has no ties to the lawyer connected to the meeting.
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff questioned why top Trump advisors were at the meeting in the first place.
“There’s no reason for this Russian government advocate to be meeting with Paul Manafort or with Mr. Kushner or the president’s son if it wasn’t about the campaign and Russia policy,” he said.
The revelation comes as former FBI Director Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the election.
“There was no collusion in this meeting. But the fact that they were willing to do the meeting suggest to me a willingness to collude and that’s what Bob Mueller’s going to have to dig into,” said former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrel.
Trump Jr. was not the only member of the family catching heat over the weekend.
After receiving criticism from both sides of the aisle, his father did an about-face on a key moment of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week at the G20 Summit.
Sunday morning, Trump tweeted about creating a cyber security team with Russia.
Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
“If that’s our best election defense we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow,” said Rep. Schiff, D-CA, on CNN’s State of the Union.
By Sunday night, Trump backtracked on his earlier tweet.
The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
It came after a day of criticism not just from Democrats but Republicans as well.
“To forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyber attacks is to empower Putin and that’s exactly what he’s doing,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “Partnering with Putin on a “Cyber Security Unit” is akin to partnering with Assad on a “Chemical Weapons Unit.”
Trump has said he wants to “move forward” and work constructively with Russia after his G20 Summit meeting with Putin.