Trump Says He Misspoke, Accepts Russian Meddling Took Place
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Senate Committee Releases 2500 Pages About 2016 Trump Tower Meeting
16 May 2018, 10:09 | Erica Roy
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The US president's son also said he did not think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to transcripts of his interview with the panel from past year.
The interview took place on September 7, 2017.
Trump Jr. said that he neither offered his father advance warning that he'd been invited to learn about Russian government "dirt" on Clinton, or informed him after the fact that the conversation had instead mostly focused on reinstating a program allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.
Other attendees of the meeting provided a very different account of Kushner's role, however, according to transcripts of interviews released by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has looked closely at the meeting as part of his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which has not yet turned up any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.
The committee's documents also included responses from Veselnitskaya, as well as a statement from Kushner and a page of notes from Manafort.
"I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry", Trump Jr. said. Among those attending was lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin.
Okay, let the record show that Trump Jr. knew about the meetings, but not until they were reported in the press. "I knew of something", said Trump Jr. "I had no way of assessing where it came from, but I was willing to listen", he said.
And when the damaging information didn't materialize, as Veselnitskaya focused on United States sanctions on Russia under the Magnitsky Act that the United States passed to punish Russian human rights abuses, the testimony gives new insight into how Trump's team reacted.
After news of the Trump Tower meeting became public in July 2017, Goldstone, the music promoter, wrote to Emin Agalarov - the pop singer son of Russian real estate developer Aras Agalarov, who had recruited him to arrange the meeting - saying, "I hope this favor was worth it for your dad - it could blow up big". Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort all gathered with a Kremlin-connected lawyer and her entourage in Trump Tower in Manhattan after being promised damaging political "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. He described the person who contacted him via Twitter as "a lady that appeared to work at a law firm, if I recall correctly". But the panel released her written responses to a letter that Grassley sent her previous year.
The Trump campaign has dismissed the meeting as part of a bait-and-switch Russian lobbying effort to amend the Magnitsky Act. The meeting, and the administration's initial response to reports of it, have been one focus of the probe.
Of Goldstone's promise of dirt, Balber said: "I think he has said publicly that he quote "goosed the story" for the objective of getting the folks in the Trump campaign to agree to the meeting".
Trump Jr. told the panel that he did not recall whether his father, President Donald Trump, had known about a meeting he helped set up with a Russian attorney promising damaging campaign information about Hillary Clinton.
Schiff said Trump Jr. invoked the privilege because his lawyers claimed that the discussion with his father took place in the presence of legal counsel, which Schiff and other Democrats argued is a situation not covered by the privilege.
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