Trump Jr. gives testimony on probe
WASHINGTON » Questioned intently by a Senate committee, President Donald Trump’s son struck a firmly unapologetic tone, deflected many queries and said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in hopes of election-season dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to transcripts released Wednesday.
Asked if he was troubled by the idea that the meeting in June 2016 was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race, Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t give it much thought.
“I don’t know that it alarmed me, but I like I said, I don’t know and I don’t know that I was all that focused on it at the time,” Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in the closeddoor interview last year.
The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump Jr. and others who attended the New York meeting at which they expected to receive compromising information about Trump’s Democratic opponent. The panel also released more than 700 pages of exhibits including numerous emails, heavily redacted phone logs and court depositions.
The Trump Tower meeting is a key point of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible election collusion between Trump aides and the Kremlin.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Senate intelligence committee said it stands behind a 2017 assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in the election to hurt Clinton and help Trump. That conclusion differs from a House intelligence committee report released last month.
Both the House and Senate intelligence panels have produced reports on their own Russia investigations. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced in January that he wanted to release transcripts from his committee’s interviews because people “deserve to have all the facts, not just one side of this story.”
According to the transcripts, Trump Jr. responded to dozens of queries — including about emails and phone calls leading up to the meeting — by saying he could not recall or had “no idea.” He said he did not alert his father to the meeting beforehand and he had never discussed with him the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.
The transcripts reveal some new details about how the meeting came to be arranged and efforts afterward to mitigate the political damage arising from its disclosure.
They also show the dissatisfaction of Trump Jr. and other campaign figures, including brotherin-law Jared Kushner, when the meeting failed to yield the harmful Clinton information they thought they’d get — as well as the increasing panic of one of the meeting participants who feared his reputation would be ruined by his role in setting it up.
Trump Jr. had had high hopes. After music publicist Rob Goldstone promised him “very interesting” information, including documents “that would incriminate Hillary,” he responded via email, “if it’s what you say I love it.”
The transcripts also reflect an aggressive Russian outreach to Trump before and after the New York meeting, including an effort to arrange a follow-up gettogether that November with a member of the transition team. The follow-up never happened.
Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, walks from the elevator at Trump Tower, in New York. Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he couldn’t remember whether he had discussed the Russia investigation with his father, according to transcripts released Wednesday of his interview with the panel.