Manafort notes on Trump Tower meeting not damaging to Trump family or campaign

In July there was a flurry of reports about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya who brought along a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin and a translator named Anatoli Samachornov. Thursday, Trump Jr. told Senate investigators he held the meeting because of the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton but maintained nothing came of it. From the NY Times:

“To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out,” he said. “Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration.”…

“Since I had no additional information to validate what Rob [Goldstone] was saying, I did not quite know what to make of his email,” he said. “I had no way to gauge the reliability, credibility or accuracy of any of the things he was saying.”

“As it later turned out, my skepticism was justified,” Mr. Trump added. “The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out not to be about what had been represented.”

Is Trump Jr. telling the truth about what was discussed at the meeting? According to the noted taken by Paul Manafort, he is. Politico reports:

Notes from former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a meeting he attended last year with a Russian lobbyist and Donald Trump Jr. are not seen as damaging to the Trump family or campaign officials, according to government officials and others who have looked at the notes…

The notes from the meeting do not contain any damaging information about Clinton or references to promises of damaging information about her, nor do they indicate that officials on the campaign were promising favors or seeking them in return for money, the people who’ve seen them said.

The story adds that the notes are somewhat hard to follow and there’s no guarantee they are complete. In other words, it’s possible something was discussed which Manafort chose not to write down. But, at a minimum, the notes don’t appear to contain anything that undercuts Trump Jr.’s claim that no dirt on Clinton came out of the meeting.

Earlier this month, NBC News reported that the notes contained the word “donation” or possibly “donor” and said the reference had caught the attention of investigators since foreign campaign donations are illegal. At the time, a spokesman for Sen. Grassley denied that “donation” appeared in the notes and a spokesman for Manafort told NBC, “it is 100 percent false to suggest this meeting included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.”

Today, Politico reports the word “donor” does not appear in the notes, but that it does contain some sort of reference to a “previous donations to the Republican National Committee” by an American involved in the passage of the Magnitsky Act.

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