Trump Jr. gives tes­ti­mony on probe

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Tucker, Mary Clare Jalonick and Chad Day

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.

CAROLYN KASTER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

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.

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