Donald Trump Jr dismisses Russian lawyer meeting as ‘a nothing’

Donald Trump Jr has played down a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who had promised him damaging information about Hillary Clinton during his father’s bid for the US presidency last year.


He was speaking to Fox News after releasing a 2016 email chain in which he appeared to welcome the help from the Russian government attorney after being promised by an intermediary “high level” information about Mrs Clinton, that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”


But the eldest Trump son dismissed the subsequent meeting as “a nothing” which failed to lead to anything fruitful.

He said he decided to meet with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya as a favour to Rob Goldstone, a friend and publicist for a Russian pop star, and for ‘research’ on an opponent.

“In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr told Fox News.

“Again this is before Russia mania, this was before they were building it up in the press.

“For me this was opposition research – something you know, concrete evidence as to all the stories I’d been hearing about.

“I wanted to hear it out, but really, it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn’t what the meeting was actually about.”

‘This is pre-Russia fever’

Speaking on the Sean Hannity program, Trump Jr said he was unsure if sirens went off when the email pointed to Russian government help.

But he wanted to hear out what would be said in the meeting.

“I mean this was her (Hillary Clinton), perhaps involvement with the Russian government,” Trump Jr said.

“Someone sent me an email; I can’t help what someone sends me.”

The eldest Trump son said he didn’t know who he was meeting and had “never heard” of Veselnitskaya.

“This is pre-Russia fever… the rest of the world was talking about that trying to build up this narrative about Russia,” he said.

“I don’t think my sirens went up, or the antennas went up… because it wasn’t the issue that it’s made out to be over the last nine months, ten months since it really became a thing so I think there is an element of context at the time.”

What eventuated in the meeting, he said, was “nonsensical” and quickly went on to a story about Russian adoption.

Ten minutes in, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who also attended, left the meeting, while the-then Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort went on the phone.

“This was such a nothing,” Trump Jr said.

“There was nothing to tell. It was a wasted 20 minutes, it was such a shame.”

He also denied collusion with the Russian government.

“There was nothing I would do to endanger this country.”



NSW player ratings for State of Origin III




JAMES TEDESCO – Shining light among the Blues’ backs. A gallant effort but lacked support to damage the Maroons. 7

2. BLAKE FERGUSON – Ran aggressively but didn’t get his hands on the football enough. 6

3. JOSH DUGAN – Scored the Blues’ only try with a superb aerial contest. Struggled to have a major impact outside of that and made a couple of rudimentary errors. 6.5

4. JARRYD HAYNE – Went missing in the first half and failed to pass when NSW had a chance to score in the second. Didn’t show enough in defence. 5.5

5. BRETT MORRIS – Brilliant try-saving tackle on Cooper Cronk helped the Blues to be closer than they should have been at halftime. Workmanlike in defence, but limited opportunities in attack. 6.5

6. JAMES MALONEY – Set up Dugan’s try with a high kick but an otherwise quiet night in attack. Made up for missed tackles with a try-saving effort on Tim Glasby as he loped towards the line. 7

7. MITCHELL PEARCE – Couldn’t get control. Failed to hurt the Maroons with his kicking in a largely forgettable night. 5

8. AARON WOODS – Showed glimpses early but one of the many key Blues’ players who couldn’t fight the Maroons’ tide. 6

9. NATHAN PEATS – Worked hard in defence and hard to fault his distribution. Has shown he is a worthy Origin player. 7

10. ANDREW FIFITA – Failed to have the impact which broke apart game one. 5

11. JOSH JACKSON – Didn’t play a major part with Queensland’s pack on top of the NSW forwards. 5

12. BOYD CORDNER (capt) – Patchy performance. Finished with almost 140 metres but made costly errors. 6.5

13. TYSON FRIZELL – Was good when the momentum swung back to NSW early in the second half, but well held overall. 6


14. DAVID KLEMMER – Best of the Blues’ big men. Ran for more than 160 metres and had more impact through the middle than starting props Woods and Fifita. 7.5

15. WADE GRAHAM – Gave away a penalty at a crucial time in the second half which led to the Maroons regaining momentum. 5

16. JAKE TRBOJEVIC – Good performance in a losing cause, proving he will be an Origin mainstay in years to come. 7

17. JACK BIRD – Came off the bench and showed glimpses but limited minutes. 6

Yellen tells Congress to expect rate hikes

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has told Congress that the central bank expects to keep raising interest rates at a gradual pace, and also plans to start trimming its massive bond holdings this year.


In her semi-annual testimony on the economy, Yellen took note of a number of encouraging factors, including strong job gains and rising household wealth,that she said should fuel economic growth over the next two years.

She blamed a recent slowdown in inflation on temporary factors. But she says Fed officials are watching developments closely to make sure that annual price gains move back toward the Fed’s two per cent target.

Many economists believe the Fed, which has raised rates three times since December, will hike rates one more time this year.

In her prepared testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Yellen repeated the message she has been sending all year. The economy has improved enough that it no longer needs the extraordinary support the central bank began providing in 2008 in the wake of a severe financial crisis and the deepest recession since the 1930s.

She noted that since the depths of the recession, unemployment is now down to 4.4 per cent, near a 16-year low.

And while the economy started the year with a sluggish growth rate of just 1.4 per cent, it has regained momentum in recent months, helped by strong job gains, a revival of business investment and a strengthening of overseas economies.

But Yellen cautioned that “considerable uncertainty always attends the economic outlook”.

Those include whether inflation will indeed pick up, as well as questions about how much of President Donald Trump’s economic program will make it through Congress.

She noted that while the global economy appears stronger, “a number of our trading partners continue to confront economic challenges”.

“At present, I see roughly equal odds that the US economy’s performance will be somewhat stronger or somewhat less strong than we currently project,” she said.

Yellen made no reference in her prepared remarks to what many investors see as one of the biggest unknowns at the moment – whether Trump will ask Yellen to remain as Fed leader when her current term ends next February.

Yellen so far has deflected questions about whether she would accept a second four-term term as chairman if Trump asked her to remain.

She also did not mention the potential impact of Trump’s other Fed nominations on central bank interest rate decisions and its approach to its other job, regulating the nation’s largest banks.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump was critical of the central bank for its low-rate policies, which he said were helping Democrats, and for its efforts to enact tougher regulations on banks in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

On Monday, the administration announced that it had chosen Randal Quarles, a Treasury Department official under two Republican presidents, to serve as vice chairman for supervision, the Fed’s top bank regulatory post.

The Fed slashed its key policy rate to a record low near zero in December 2008 to combat the worst economic downturn since the 1930s – and kept it there for seven years until nudging it up modestly in December 2015.

It then left the rate unchanged for another year until raising it again in December of last year, followed by increases in March and June this year.

Even so, the rate remains in a still-low range between one per cent and 1.25 per cent.

Smith guides new-look Qld to Origin win

It was supposed to be the end of an era.


But Queensland’s dominance does not look like ending anytime soon after their 22-6 win over NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night clinched their 11th series triumph in 12 years.

Winger Valentine Holmes nabbed a hat-trick in just his second Origin while man of the match Cameron Smith again turned back the clock to extend the team’s dynasty in front of a record 52,540-strong crowd.

The decider was billed as a changing of the guard for the Maroons with champion five-eighth Johnathan Thurston receiving a pre-match tribute.

His 37-game Origin career was ended by a shoulder injury in Queensland’s dramatic game two win.

It may have also been the final game for fellow Maroons greats Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, who are yet to decide whether to play on in 2018.

However, Queensland officially began life after Thurston just the way they left it; by breaking NSW hearts and clinching their 13th Origin decider – and seventh straight.

In a touch of class, Smith invited Thurston to lift the Origin shield with him on the podum.

“I reckon you are the greatest player to ever pull on a jersey,” Smith said to Thurston.

Smith said later of the moment: “It was pretty special but I would much prefer if he was out there with us on the field.

“I wanted to give him the moment he deserved, I wanted to share it with him.

“We won’t see a guy like him again for a long time.”

The Maroons were supposed to be at their most vulnerable this year, missing Thurston for two games and going through 26 players, including eight debutants for the series – the most ever used by Queensland.

The writing was on the wall after their record 28-4 game one loss.

But Queensland still maintained their dominance to ensure Kevin Walters is just the third Maroons coach to win his first two series.

“What a proud moment particularly after game one,” Walters said.

“That’s the proudest thing for me, how these guys played under enormous pressure.

“And what can I say about Cam Smith. I don’t think I have seen a more dominant first half.”

Debutant Cameron Munster was outstanding, stepping into the big shoes left behind by Thurston at No.6.

And in just his second Origin, Holmes became the fifth Queensland player to nab a record equalling hat-trick.

But it was the Maroons’ “big three” – Smith, Slater and Cronk – who sparked the hosts.

Slater showed no sign of an ankle complaint to be a constant threat, Smith tore NSW apart with his first half dummy half runs while Cronk’s highlight was a pin-point cross-field kick that delivered Holmes’ second try.

Queensland winger Dane Gagai received the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series.

“It’s pretty hard to walk away from it. This is what you play the game for, the enjoyment that the game brings you,” 29 Origin veteran Slater said of his future.

NSW had backed themselves to seal their second series win in 12 years after Origin I and kept the same 17 for the entire series for the first time since 1996.

Asked about his future NSW coach Laurie Daley said: “I am not quite sure, tonight’s result has not changed my opinion on what I want to do.

“I am proud of these guys, glad they tried so hard. It will hurt for the next 12 months.”

Maligned NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce again had a game to forget as his career Origin series tally slumped to 0-7.

Muller magic runs out as Cilic powers into semis

Cilic, who triumphed 3-6 7-6(6) 7-5 5-7 6-1 will now face Sam Querrey in the semi-finals after the American upset home favourite Andy Murray.


The 34-year-old Muller was an unexpected presence in the last eight after he pulled off a surprise, five-set win over Rafa Nadal in the fourth round.

A day off ensured decent recovery time from the nearly five-hour battle with Nadal, which included a fifth set that lasted over two hours.

And Muller, the journeyman who had not even won a regular ATP Tour event until this year, succeeded in carrying his inspired form against the Spaniard into this last eight contest.

Muller broke in the seventh game with a powerful drive down the line, shouting out his delight as he clearly sensed another upset could be on the agenda.

He broke again to win the set when Cilic went wide with a return and his small but noisy contingent of supporters from his Luxembourg homeland roared their delight.

Cilic was not rattled though and he went into the second set tie-break looking strong, taking advantage of an ill-timed double-fault from Miller at 6-6, securing set point with a fantastic cross-court winner.

The third set was another tight affair and again it was an unforced error from Muller which gave Cilic the upper hand. Serving to stay in the set, Muller was broken to love, the final point a frustrating volley into the net.

The clever serve and volley play and the ice-cool demeanour that put paid to Nadal’s hopes, had gone but Muller was not ready to leave for his home in Leudelange just yet.

Cilic’s serve was firing dangerously but Muller held on and then struck to go 6-5 up, breaking with a fine cross-court winner and uncharacteristically dancing across to his chair.

He regained his composure quickly and calmly served out for the set but his revival was short-lived.

Cilic broke Muller’s first service in the deciding set and the resistance crumbled, the Croat charging through the games to win the final set 6-1.

After three straight defeats in the last eight at the All England Club, Cilic tastes the semi-finals for the first time and will surely sense the chance to go even further.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Alison Williams)

Froome to adopt ruthless approach in Pyrenees

The Briton leads Italian Fabio Aru by 18 seconds and France’s Romain Bardet by 51 seconds and he will be watching them closely during a punishing 214.


5-km trek in the Pyrenees ending with a short, brutal climb to Peyragudes.

Twice champion Alberto Contador and, to a lesser extent, Colombian Nairo Quintana, had bad days in the ninth stage in the Jura last Sunday, but Froome will not give them space.

“We don’t want guys who have lost time to get back into the game,” the defending champion told reporters on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the death of Briton Tom Simpson on the slopes of Mont Ventoux.

The last 50 kilometres of Thursday’s stage are extremely brutal.

The riders will tackle the climb up to the Port de Bales (11.7km at an average gradient of 7.7 percent), a descent to the foot of the Col de Peyresourde (9.7km at 7.8 pc), a very short downhill and the final ascent to Peyragudes (2.4km at 8.4 pc) with gradients sometimes reaching 20 percent.

“It’s quite savage. I think if someone blows in those few hundreds of metres (at 20 per cent), there could be some really significant time gaps,” said Froome.

“It’s one of the key stages of this year’s race.”

Froome is likely to race conservatively.

“The number one priority is not to allow some guys to come back into the GC game and of course for me personally to keep a close eye on Aru,” the three-times champion said.

“I will stick to him like glue.”

Thursday’s stage is made even trickier by the fact that the following one is a punchy 101km trek in the Pyrenees – the kind of short stage that is hard to control.

“It’s hard to hold anything back on a stage like tomorrow but the following day will be on the back of our minds,” said Froome.

In 2013, in a similar stage, Team Sky were blown apart after repeated attacks early on and Froome was quickly isolated by his rivals.

“It’s going to be flat out racing, we know what to expect,” he said.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)

Mumford key in AFL derby midfield battle

Greater Western Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford doubles as both battering ram and barometer at the AFL club.


Pleasingly for the Giants, Mumford seems to save his best performances for former side Sydney.

Mumford left the Swans following the 2013 season, having been squeezed out of the club to accommodate the arrival of superstar signing Lance Franklin.

The former boilermaker made an immediate impact at his new club, earning the three Brownlow votes in GWS’s season-opening win over the Swans in 2014.

In round five of this year, Mumford helped himself to 62 hitouts in the Sydney derby and was awarded the Brett Kirk medal as best on ground in GWS’s 42-point win.

“Hopefully he can replicate that for us,” GWS midfielder Dylan Shiel said ahead of Saturday’s Sydney derby at Spotless Stadium.

“The way he attacks the ball and attacks the man is as good as I’ve ever seen.

“Shane has a massive influence on our football club and in particular our midfield.

“When he’s up and going, everyone knows that he’s crashing packs.”

Few players in the league carry such a reputation for dishing out pain but the 31-year-old is also among the competition’s most skilled ruckmen.

Shiel noted Mumford and the Giants’ midfielders will need to lift for what shapes as a crucial battle with the Swans’ in-form engine room.

“They’ve definitely hit some really good form and they’re just competing really hard. They’ve got some really good midfielders,” he said.

“Contested footy is a really big strength of the Swans and over the last couple of months, they’ve been No.1 at it.

“We (GWS’s midfield) have been going OK, probably similar to the whole team, we’ve been inconsistent.”

The 13th derby shapes as arguably the most high-stakes clash between Sydney’s two clubs, with the exception of last year’s qualifying final at ANZ Stadium.

The Swans sit eighth on the ladder and their finals hopes will take a hit if they lose, while the Giants could be dislodged from the top two if they’re defeated.

“If you drop a couple of games you can definitely drop down the ladder fairly quickly. It’s going to be a massive match,” Shiel said.

Cronk’s cross-field kick one for the ages

All the sinews in Cooper Cronk’s body have done it again.


If Wednesday night proves to be the veteran halfback’s State of Origin swansong, then he has left Queensland fans with a jaw-dropping moment to remember.

Cronk’s cross-field kick for Valentine Holmes’ second try in the 22-6 victory at Suncorp Stadium was pure perfection.

With the Maroons leading 6-0 just past the midway point of the first half, the 33-year-old reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out perhaps the best kick of his career.

Cronk was just five metres from Queensland’s tryline when he spotted Holmes on the left wing, having drifted a few metres off his marker, Blake Ferguson.

NSW players were expecting Cronk to take on the defensive line or dish off a pass but instead, he lowered his gaze and let rip with a precise drop punt.

It went 40 metres on an acute angle, stayed low and landed straight on Holmes’ chest – much to the bewilderment of the Blues, who seemed to have the life sucked out of them in an instant.

Cronk’s winning field goal in the 2012 series decider – the one where he famously said “every sinew in (his) body came together in one perfect whole” – might go down as his most important kick, but as far as technique goes, this one trumped it.

“It comes down to moments. Origin is about moments,” Cronk said.

“What anyone does on that field tonight and other big games, it’s about preparation, practice, repetition.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“As long as you’ve got more Maroon jerseys in the picture, it gives you an opportunity.”

It was certainly no fluke – Cronk said he had been working on the play with Queensland’s wingers throughout the entire series.

Indeed, Holmes looked like he knew exactly where he had to be.

“When you come into an environment like this, when you’ve got players from other clubs, it’s about fast-tracking them,” Cronk said.

“We did a little bit of work on that, not only this week but the first couple of games.

“I’m just glad it happened tonight.”

Loss is players’ fault, not Daley: Cordner

NSW captain Boyd Cordner has taken a bullet for coach Laurie Daley after the Blues slumped to their 11th series defeat in 12 years on Wednesday.


This year’s fierce State of Origin series hit somewhat of an anti-climax after Queensland pummelled the Blues into submission with a 22-6 cakewalk at Suncorp Stadium.

Other than a 10-minute period when the Blues got within six midway through the second half, Daley’s side barely held a candle against the Maroons’ near-perfect use of the ball.

“We weren’t at our best and we got ourselves back into it but then again, there was a penalty and a couple of errors when you chase points,” Daley said after the match.

“First half our completion rate wasn’t good enough. They made 1-2 errors and were at 90 per cent, and we were high 60s, 70s. We didn’t have any field position in the first half.”

Daley was left to rue a series where his squad flexed their Origin muscle in game one to convince critics that the Maroon tide was finally set to be repelled.

However the Maroons’ fought back from the death in game two to force a decider before punishing NSW for their ill-discipline in game three.

Asked who should be blamed for their inconsistency, Daley said: “I think it’s the coaches.”

But Cordner interjected to take a shot for Daley, saying the Blues great had shown plenty of faith by sticking with the same 17 players for the entire series.

“I’ll step in there. I reckon it’s the players’ (fault),” Cordner said.

“Laurie and the coaching staff have been nothing but great every time I’ve been wearing a blue jersey, especially this series and we had the same team all the way through the series.”

He said he and his teammates needed to wear the blame after missing 31 tackles to 11, making more errors, and giving away more penalties.

“It falls back on myself being the captain and the playing group as well. We played really well game one and most of game two, it was really disappointing how that ended,” he said.

“Come up here tonight and we didn’t start the game off how we planned.

“It doesn’t come back on the coaches. It’s the players. I’ll put my hand up there, we dropped too much ball, we gave them too much field position and easy penalties.

“To do that to a side like Queensland especially playing at Suncorp, you can’t do that.”

New-look Maroons pack wins forward battle

They were pummelled in game one but Queensland’s renovated pack has laid the platform for another era of State of Origin supremacy.


Led by rookie props Dylan Napa and Jarrod Wallace, the Maroons easily won the battle of the forwards in Wednesday night’s 22-6 victory over NSW.

All the talk heading into the series decider was that the Blues, led by chief destroyer Andrew Fifita, were supposed to have the clear advantage up the middle.

But that was never going to fly with Queensland’s new generation of brutes, who muzzled their star-studded opponents by simply working harder for longer.

“It’s no secret that we had a bit of a slow start to the series through the middle,” Napa said.

“I remember being here after game one and the feeling.

“We fixed it up.

“We went to Sydney, got a win there so we could push it to a decider in Brisbane. It worked perfect.”

Maroons coach Kevin Walters made wholesale changes up front after their limp Origin I defeat, dumping stalwarts Sam Thaiday, Nate Myles, Aidan Guerra and Jacob Lillyman in pursuit of fresh blood.

Not that their replacements inspired much confidence – most armchair punters had to hit up Wikipedia to figure out who Tim Glasby was, and even Coen Hess admitted he didn’t think he was ready for a rep call-up.

Matt Scott (knee) also didn’t play a minute of the series while Queensland were also without retired great Corey Parker for the first time.

All up, it was Queensland’s most inexperienced pack in 20 years.

“We had to introduce some younger players with a lot of energy,” Walters said.

“That was the key there. We were just out enthused there in game one.

“They really dominated us and you can’t win at this level without strong defence.”

Napa said he hadn’t given much thought to what the new, youthful Maroons pack might be capable of in the years to come.

“Every bit of experience is going to help in the future but right now I’m just enjoying the win with all the boys,” he said.

Bench weapon Hess, meanwhile, was too busy pinching himself.

“It’s pretty crazy how fast everything has come. I was playing Queensland Cup last year and now I have won an Origin series,” he said.

“It is pretty mind blowing.”