It was revealed last week that Mr Trump Jr met with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, after being told she would provide official documents and information that would “incriminate” his father’s campaign opponent Hillary Clinton. Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the chairman of the Trump campaign at the time, also attended the meeting.
During an off-camera White House briefing, Mr Spicer said “that it is quite often for people who are given information during the heat of a campaign to ask what that is.”>
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Donald Trump Jr's Russia email scandal leads back to Jared Kushner
“That's what simply he did,” Mr Spicer added. “And there was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.”
However, Mr Spicer's insistence that the June 2016 meeting was about adoptions conflicts with Mr Trump Jr's account of what happened.
Mr Trump's eldest son wrote in a statement last week that at the start of the meeting, Ms Veselnitskaya said she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms Clinton.
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/17 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests. Mr Manafort turned himself in at FBI headquarters to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Oct 30, 2017, after he was indicted under seal on charges that include conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
2/17 Rick Gates
Mr Gates joined the Trump team in spring 2016, and served as a top aide until he left to work at the Republican National Committee after the departure of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Mr Gates' had previously worked on several presidential campaigns, on international political campaigns in Europe and Africa, and had 15 years of political or financial experience with multinational firms, according to his bio. Mr Gates was indicted alongside Mr Manafort by special counsel Robert Mueller's team on charges that include conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
3/17 George Papadopoulos
George Papadopoulos was a former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, having joined around March 2016. Mr Papadopoulos plead guilty to federal charges for lying to the FBI as a part of a cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Mr Papadopoulos claimed in an interview with the FBI that he had made contacts with Russian sources before joining the Trump campaign, but he actually began working with them after joining the team. Mr Papadopoulos allegedly took a meeting with a professor in London who reportedly told him that Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. The professor also allegedly introduced Mr Papadopoulos to a Russian who was said to have close ties to officials at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Papadopoulos also allegedly was in contact with a woman whom he incorrectly described in one email to others in the campaign as the "niece" to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
4/17 Donald Trump Jr
The President's eldest son met with a Russian lawyer - Natalia Veselnitskaya - on 9 June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York. He said in an initial statement that the meeting was about Russia halting adoptions of its children by US citizens. Then, he said it was regarding the Magnitsky Act, a US law blacklisting Russian human rights abusers. In a final statement, Mr Trump Jr released a chain of emails that revealed he took the meeting in hopes of getting information Ms Veselnitskaya had about Hillary Clinton's alleged financial ties to Russia. He and the President called it standard "opposition research" in the course of campaigning and that no information came from the meeting. The meeting was set up by an intermediary, Rob Goldstone. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were also at the same meeting.
5/17 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/17 Rob Goldstone
Former tabloid journalist and now music publicist Rob Goldstone is a contact of the Trump family through the previously Trump-owned 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which took place in Moscow. In June 2016, he wrote to Donald Trump Jr offering a meeting with a Russian lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya, who had information about Hillary Clinton. Mr Goldstone was the intermediary for Russian pop star Emin Agalaraov and his father, real estate magnate Aras, who played a role in putting on the 2013 pageant. In an email chain released by Mr Trump Jr, Mr Goldstone seemed to indicate Russian government's support of Donald Trump's campaign.
7/17 Aras and Emin Agalarov
Aras Agalarov (R) is a wealthy Moscow-based real estate magnate and son Emin (L) is a pop star. Both played a role in putting on the previously Trump-owned 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. They allegedly had information about Hillary Clinton and offered that information to the Trump campaign through a lawyer with whom they had worked with, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and music publicist Rob Goldstone.
8/17 Natalia Veselnitskaya
Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. She has worked on real estate issues and reportedly counted the FSB as a client in the past. She has ties to a Trump family connection, real estate magnate Aras Agalarov, who had helped set up the Trump-owned 2013 Miss Universe pageant which took place in Moscow. Ms Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort in Trump Tower on 9 June 2016 but denies the allegation that she went there promising information on Hillary Clinton's alleged financial ties to Russia. She contends that the meeting was about the US adoptions of Russian children being stopped by Moscow as a reaction to the Magnitsky Act, a US law blacklisting Russian human rights abusers.
9/17 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
10/17 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the former longtime Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
11/17 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
12/17 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
13/17 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
14/17 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
15/17 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
16/17 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
17/17 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
“Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense,” Mr Trump Jr said. “No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
He said Ms Veselnitskaya then began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. Days after Congress past it, the Russian government retaliated by banning American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.
“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Mr Trump Jr said.
On Fox News, Mr Trump Jr defended his decision to meet with Ms Veselnitskaya, asserting that for him, “this was opposition research”.
The President has also tweeted that “most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent,” declaring “That's politics!”
Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2017
But observers – including the President’s pick for FBI Director, Christopher Wray – have said that anyone who is approached by a hostile government for opposition research should contact the FBI rather than take the meeting.
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There are multiple federal and congressional investigations into whether Trump campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Some have suggested that the accounts of Mr Trump Jr’s meeting are the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.
Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/sean-spicer-trump-jr-russia-email-scandal-adoption-hillary-clinton-contradiction-a7846226.html