Donald Trump 'not aware' of son's meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer, legal team says

Donald Trump 'not aware' of son's meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer, legal team says

Donald Trump 'not aware' of son's meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer, legal team says

Updated 10 July 2017, 10:20 AEST

Donald Trump was "not aware of and did not attend" a meeting last year between his son and a Kremlin-connected lawyer who was offering damaging information on the US President's then opponent Hillary Clinton, his legal team says.

US President Donald Trump was "not aware of and did not attend" a 2016 meeting between his son Donald Trump Jr and a Kremlin-connected lawyer who was offering damaging information on then Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, his lawyers say.

Key points:

  • Donald Trump has denied knowledge of the meeting between his son, son-in-law and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort
  • Donald Trump Jr told the New York Times Ms Veselnitskaya had "no meaningful information"
  • Reports come as Mr Trump faces criticism over plans to build a cyber security unit with Russia

Mr Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower on June 9 last year, two weeks after Mr Trump won the Republican nomination, the New York Times reported, citing three advisers to the White House.

Donald Trump Jr acknowledged the meeting in a statement to the Times, but said Ms Veselnitskaya had "no meaningful information".

"After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms Clinton," Mr Trump Jr was quoted as saying.

"Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered.

"It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information."

The Times said Ms Veselnitskaya then turned the conversation to the adoption of Russian children and a US law blacklisting Russians linked to alleged human rights abuses.

Mr Trump Jr told the paper he did not tell Mr Manafort or Mr Kushner what the meeting was about when he asked them to attend.

Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, was the subject of reports in May claiming he had proposed a secret line of communication between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a meeting with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kisylak in December.

Allegations of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia have cast a shadow over Donald Trump's first five months in office, distracting from attempts by his fellow Republicans in Congress to overhaul the US healthcare and tax systems.

The Kremlin has denied US intelligence agencies' conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election in Mr Trump's favour, using such means as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the matter, including whether there may have been any collusion on the part of Trump campaign officials, as are congressional committees including both the House and Senate intelligence panels.

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.

The revelations about Mr Trump's son comes as the President faced harsh criticism from his own party over a potential plan to form a cyber security unit with Russia.

Commenting on his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 on Friday, Mr Trump sent a series of tweets saying "Putin & I discussed forming and impenetrable Cyber Security unit [sic]".

Mr Trump said "it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia" and that he had "strongly pressed" Mr Putin twice over Russian election meddling during their meeting.

"It's not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it's pretty close," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

ABC/wires