Trump campaign paid Trump Jr. lawyer’s firm 11 days before Russia story broke
Donald Trump Jr., left, walks off stage with his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, after Trump’s debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016.
President Trump’s reelection campaign paid the law firm representing Donald Trump Jr. 11 days before the New York Times reported the eldest Trump son arranged a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin, according to a new Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing.
Records filed Saturday show Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., paid the the Law Offices of Alan S. Futerfas $50,000 for "legal consulting" on June 27. On July 8, the Times reported that Trump Jr. arranged the meeting.
The timing of the payment raises additional questions about who in Trump universe was aware of Trump Jr.’s interactions with the Russians, and when they learned of the meeting.
Representatives from the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization and Futerfas did not immediately respond to questions about the payment.
The Trump Organization on Monday confirmed Trump Jr. had hired Futerfas, an attorney with a background in white collar criminal defense. On Tuesday, Trump Jr. released an email chain documenting interactions between himself and publicist Rob Goldstone, who offered to connect him with a Russian lawyer who purported to have information that would "incriminate" Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump." Trump Jr. responded, "if it’s what you say I love it."
Trump Jr. meeting "smoking gun" in Russian collusion allegations?
The list of people in attendance at the June 9 meeting has since grown since initial reports, and now includes at least Trump Jr., former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and translator Anatoli Samochornov, as CBS News has reported.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday the president only learned of Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russians in the last "couple of days." On Wednesday, Mr. Trump also said he was unaware of the meeting until a few days before. But he then told reporters on Air Force One Thursday that "maybe" he had learned of his son’s meeting with the Russian lawyer "at some point," but did not know the purpose of the meeting.
Previous FEC filings for campaign disbursements made in 2017 do not list other payments to Futerfas’ firm. The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay first reported the payment. The same FEC document also shows the Trump campaign paid The Trump Corporation nearly $90,000 for "legal consulting" on June 30, although it doesn’t offer more details on the disbursement.
The president has continued to defend his son’s decision to arrange the meeting.
"As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man, he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government but a Russian lawyer, it was a short meeting it was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast," Mr. Trump said during a joint press availability with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday.
"I do think this: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would’ve taken that meeting. It’s called opposition research," Mr. Trump added, calling the setting up of a meeting to get compromising information "standard" practice.
"Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information, and you take the information," he added.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, House Intelligence Committee and FBI are investigating Russian election meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign.
CBS News political director Steve Chaggaris contributed to this report.