In a newly released transcript of Donald Trump Jr’s testimony, the eldest of President Trump‘s children details what happened in that Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. Nathan Rousseau Smith has the story.
In a Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., son of President-elect 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.(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
WASHINGTON — After setting up a meeting with Russian agents to discuss what he thought would be incriminating information on Hillary Clinton in June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. made an 11-minute phone call to a blocked phone number, according to a transcript of his interview with Senate investigators released Wednesday.
Trump Jr. says he can’t remember who he spoke to that night. But his father, now President Trump, used a blocked phone number at his home at the time, according to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
At a rally the next day, the presidential candidate alluded to information his campaign was gathering on Hillary Clinton. He said he was planning to give a “major speech” the following week “discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” he said.
Whether or not President Trump knew about his son’s meeting with Russians is one of the central unanswered questions in a wide-ranging investigations into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
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 also contributed to the Democratic National Committee or the Clinton campaign.
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.
But ultimately, the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower ended up being about the adoption of Russian children by American couples, which the Russian government blocked in response to U.S. sanctions passed by Congress in the Magnitsky Act.
Trump Jr. and his brother-in-law — now White House senior adviser Jared Kushner — were visibly annoyed by the discussion of the Magnitsky Act, Goldstone told the committee. He said that Kushner in particular was “agitated” and “infuriated”
“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.
“I never spoke to my father about it,” he said. “She asked if I wanted to actually speak to him, and I chose not to because I didn’t want to bring him into something that he had nothing to do with.”
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 with the investigation. “The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee,” he said in a statement.