In a public attempt at damage control, Donald Trump Jr.’s appearance last week with Fox News’ Sean Hannity may have provided more evidence of the campaign’s collusion with Russia during the election. His exclusive interview to discuss his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya came only one day after Trump Jr. released copies of his own emails leading up to the encounter, corroborating the account of events detailed in a recent New York Times article. Downplaying it as a “total waste of time”, he confirmed that it was arranged by an associate, Emin Agalarov, and attended by then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and adviser Jared Kushner. In the pitch, Agalarov tells Trump Jr. that the the meeting’s instigator intends to provide them with potentially damaging material regarding the Clinton campaign and its ties to Russia.
But rather than providing the dirt on Clinton, he claimed in the interview that all Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss was “Russian adoptions and how we could possibly help.” Portraying himself as the victim of a bait-and-switch, he dismissed the growing criticism as “Russian fever”.
For Veselnitskaya, a lawyer and lobbyist who has a number of high profile clients in Moscow, restarting Russian adoptions means one thing: the reversal of the Magnitsky Act sanctions enacted by Congress that spurred Russia to ban them in the first place. The meeting wasn’t a bait-and-switch, it was an offer of a quid pro quo.