Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.: I didn’t have Clinton info they wanted

MOSCOW — The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the presidential campaign denied in an exclusive interview with NBC News that she had any connection to the Kremlin and insists she met with President Donald Trump's son to press her client's interest in the Magnitsky Act — not to hand over information about Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that," Natalia Veselnitskaya said.

When asked how Trump Jr. seemed to have the impression that she had information about the Democratic National Committee, she responded:

"It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted."

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Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.

Michael Flynn

Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.

Sergey Kislyak

Outgoing Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak is the Russian official U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions -- communication Sessions denied during his Senate committee hearing testimony.

Roger Stone

Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”

Jeff Sessions

Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

The American intelligence community accused Putin in Jan. 2017 of ordering a campaign to undermine trust in the American electoral process, developing a clear preference for Trump as president. "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump," the report read.

James Comey

Comey publicly confirmed in March an FBI inquiry into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. “The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” Comey stated.

Carter Page

Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.

J.D. Gordon

Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.

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Trump Jr. has confirmed that the meeting occurred, saying in a statement to the New York Times that he attended "a short introductory meeting" with the lawyer, where the topic of conversation was primarily about adoption.

On Monday, Trump Jr. seemed to confirm that he had been offered information about Hillary or her campaign but insisted that nothing untoward in the meeting had occurred.

"Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent... went nowhere but had to listen," he tweeted, seemingly sarcastic.

The New York Times on Monday reported that Trump Jr. was told in an email before the meeting that the information Veselnitskaya had was part of a Russian government effort to help his father's candidacy.

But Veselnitskaya flatly denied any connection to the Russian government.

Veselnitskaya explained how she had worked for years to question the case that prompted the U.S. to impose sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations, known as the Magnitsky Act. These sanctions led the Kremlin to ban the adoption of Russian children by Americans at the end of 2012.

Part of the information she put together for her client included details about a company run by a former U.S. citizen. She believes this company didn't pay taxes in either Russia or the U.S. and may also have made donations to the DNC.

These details are what may have tweaked the interest of Trump's campaign, she said.

In the meeting, she explained how Trump Jr. asked her just one question.

"The question that I was asked was as follows: whether I had any financial records which might prove that the funds used to sponsor the DNC were coming from inappropriate sources."

Trump Jr.'s meeting with Veselnitskaya took place on June 9, 2016, two days after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee.

Kremlin officials said on Monday that they were unaware of who the lawyer is.

In describing how the meeting came about, Veselnitskaya didn't name the person who set it up over the phone while she was in New York for work.

Related: Trump Campaign Meeting Raises Question: Is Collusion Even a Crime?

When she arrived at Trump Tower she was met by music publicist Rob Goldstone, who was involved in the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. After entering a board room, she was introduced to Trump Jr.

She described how Trump Jr. ran the meeting, which she said lasted 20-30 minutes. Two other men who she never met by name were also in the room. She said she only realized three days who they were after seeing their photos in the news. Those men were Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

"I could recognize the young gentleman who was only present in the meeting for probably the first seven to 10 minutes, and then he stood up and left the room," she said. "It was Mr. Jared Kushner. And he never came back, by the way.

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"And the other individual who was in the same meeting, but all the time he was looking at his phone. He was reading something. He never took any active part in the conversation. That was Mr. Manafort." Midway in the interview, she described Manafort as "absent-minded."

Trump Jr.'s newly appointed lawyer, Alan Futerfas, on Monday said "that Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed" in the meeting.

He called the reports "much ado about nothing," and noted that Veselnitskaya was not a government official and had not been a prosecutor since 2001.

Veselnitskaya described how difficult the past few days have been since the story broke.

"Imagine yourself in my shoes. One morning you wake up and all of a sudden you are the focus of all the high ranking, upstream media of the world," she said.

"To summarize, those were not the happiest days of my life, I have to say. I have to break up my holiday. I have to take a trip back to Moscow, because I just wanted to be able to answer the questions myself."

Keir Simmons reported from Moscow, Rachel Elbaum reported from London

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