Trump Jr. said in a statement Sunday he was told before their meeting at Trump Tower that Veselnitskaya would provide “information helpful to the campaign"

By Stephanie Petit
July 11, 2017 11:02 AM
139th White House Easter Egg Roll

A little-known British publicist with ties to numerous celebrities has risen to prominence in recent days after claiming he arranged the eyebrow-raising meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer with alleged connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Rob Goldstone is a former British tabloid journalist whose PR firm, Oui 2 PR, says on its website that it has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Betty White, U2 and Poison.

He told The Washington Post in a story published Sunday that he arranged the meeting between President Donald Trump‘s eldest son and lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at the request of a Russian client. Although Goldstone did not name his client, The Post noted that Goldstone was “active with the Miss Universe pageant and works as a manager for Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose father is a wealthy Moscow developer who sponsored the pageant in the Russian capital in 2013.”

The meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya took place in June 2016 after she allegedly promised damaging information on his father’s presidential campaign rival, Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. said in a statement Sunday he was told before their meeting at Trump Tower that Veselnitskaya would provide “information helpful to the campaign.”

Veselnitskaya said “she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” Trump Jr. said in the statement, per The New York Times.

However, in a new interview with NBC News, Veselnitskaya said she never worked for and has no connections with the Russian government — and “never had damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton.”

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Newsweek notes that Trump Jr.’s admission contradicts the repeated claims by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that no one from Trump’s campaign had any contact with Russians or Russian officials.

Facing criticism over his shifting accounts of the meeting, Trump Jr. took to Twitter on Monday to issue a denial — and to sarcastically say that he’s not the only person in the history of American campaigning to “ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent.”

Meanwhile, comedian Kathy Griffin, who became embroiled in her own political scandal in late May and eventually apologized for posting a graphic photo of herself holding a model decapitated head resembling Trump, also unexpectedly became involved in the story on Monday when she shared a photo of herself with Goldstone on Twitter.

In a now-deleted tweet, Griffin, 56, posted a photo of herself and Goldstone, writing, “Don’t recall taking this photo with Russian intermediary Rob Goldstone, but I am in my Dynasty hat waiting for my interview with Mr. Mueller.”

Griffin initially tweeted that the photo was taken in 2010, but deleted that tweet and posted another without a date.