Trump Jr. tells in­ves­ti­ga­tors he can’t re­call if he told fa­ther about Rus­sians

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Gre­gory Korte and John Fritze

WASH­ING­TON – Af­ter set­ting up a meet­ing with Rus­sians to dis­cuss what he thought would be in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion on Hil­lary Clin­ton in June 2016, Don­ald Trump Jr. made an 11minute phone call to a blocked phone num­ber, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of his in­ter­view with Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­leased Wed­nes­day.

Trump Jr. said he couldn’t re­mem­ber whom he spoke to that night. His fa­ther used a blocked phone num­ber at his home at the time, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ager Corey Le­wandowski.

At a rally the next day, can­di­date Don­ald Trump al­luded to in­for­ma­tion his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign was gath­er­ing on Clin­ton. He said he planned to give a “ma­jor speech” the fol­low­ing week “dis­cussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clin­tons.”

“I think you’re go­ing to find it very in­for­ma­tive and very, very in­ter­est­ing,” Trump said. “I won­der if the press will want to at­tend. Who knows?”

Whether Trump knew about his son’s meet­ing with Rus­sians is one of the unan­swered ques­tions in a wide-rang­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sians sus­pected of med­dling in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

In­ter­views with the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee could not an­swer that ques­tion con­clu­sively. Trump Jr. said he couldn’t re­mem­ber whether he talked to his fa­ther about the meet­ing.

The doc­u­ments re­leased Wed­nes­day laid out in greater de­tail the in­for­ma­tion Russian at­tor­ney Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya shopped to the Trump cam­paign.

Ri­nat Akhmetshin, a Russian lob­by­ist who at­tended the meet­ing, told the com­mit­tee Ve­sel­nit­skaya wanted to dis­cuss an al­leged $880 mil­lion tax scheme in­volv­ing in­vestors who con­trib­uted to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee or the Clin­ton cam­paign.

The meet­ing of­fer came from Rob Gold­stone, a mu­sic pub­li­cist who rep­re­sented Russian singer Emin Agalarov.

Gold­stone promised Trump Jr. “of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion that would in­crim­i­nate Hil­lary and her deal­ings with Rus­sia and would be very use­ful to your fa­ther,” ac­cord­ing to emails ob­tained by the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

“If it’s what you say I love it es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer,” Trump Jr. emailed back.

In his closed-door Se­nate tes­ti­mony, Trump Jr. ex­plained what he meant by that. “It was a col­lo­quial term used to say, hey, great, thank you,” he said.

The meet­ing June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower ended up be­ing about the adop­tion of Russian chil­dren by Amer­i­can cou­ples, which the Russian gov­ern­ment blocked in re­sponse to sanc­tions passed by Congress in the Mag­nit­sky Act.

Trump Jr. and his brother-in-law — Jared Kush­ner, who be­came a se­nior ad­viser at the White House — were an­noyed by the dis­cus­sion of the Mag­nit­sky Act, Gold­stone told the com­mit­tee. He said Kush­ner in par­tic­u­lar was “ag­i­tated” and “in­fu­ri­ated.”

Trump Jr. told the com­mit­tee he didn’t re­gret tak­ing the meet­ing.

“To the ex­tent that they had in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the fit­ness, char­ac­ter or qual­i­fi­ca­tions of any pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, I be­lieved that I should at least hear them out,” Trump Jr. said in his pre­pared tes­ti­mony to the com­mit­tee.

“The meet­ing pro­vided no mean­ing­ful in­for­ma­tion and turned out to be not about what was rep­re­sented. The meet­ing was in­stead pri­mar­ily fo­cused on Russian adop­tions, which is ex­actly what I said over a year later in my state­ment of July 8, 2017,” he said.

The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee in­ter­viewed 12 peo­ple in its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Trump Tower meet­ing, and Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, R-Iowa, or­dered the re­lease of six tran­scripts Wed­nes­day. Two wit­nesses, Kush­ner and Trump cam­paign chair­man Paul Manafort, de­clined to tes­tify.

Trump Jr. said Wed­nes­day that he co­op­er­ated fully.

MONEY SHARMA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Don­ald Trump Jr. says, “I an­swered ev­ery ques­tion asked and was can­did and forth­right with the com­mit­tee.”

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