Donald Trump Jr says he cannot remember discussing Russia probe with father – Donald Trump’s America


May 17, 2018 01:27:58

Donald Trump Jr has told the Senate Judiciary Committee he could not remember whether he had discussed the Russia investigation with his father, according to transcripts released of his interview with the panel.

Key points:

  • Mr Trump Jr did not think there was anything wrong with attending Trump Tower meeting
  • Publicist Rob Goldstone set up the meeting with the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton
  • The meeting is under scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation

The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews last year with Mr Trump’s son and others who met with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election.

The Trump Tower transcripts released reveal Trump Jr deflected multiple questions during the interview, including whether he discussed the Russia probe with his father.

He also said he did not think there was anything wrong with attending the Trump Tower meeting in which he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The meeting is under scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

In addition to Mr Trump Jr, the committee interviewed four other people who attended the Trump Tower meeting in New York — publicist Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting with the promise of dirt on Clinton; Rinat Akhmetshin, a prominent Russian-American lobbyist; Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer, and a translator.

The committee did not interview Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the centre of the meeting.

But the panel released her written responses to a letter that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent her last year.

The panel was also not able to interview Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law, or Paul Manafort, Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, even though both attended the Trump Tower meeting.

But the committee released a short page of notes Mr Manafort took on his phone during the meeting.

Mr Mueller has brought several unrelated charges against Mr Manafort, including money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to Ukrainian political work.

The special counsel is investigating the Russian meddling, whether Mr Trump’s campaign was involved and possible obstruction of justice.

The Trump Tower meeting, and the administration’s initial response to reports of it, has been one focus of the probe.

The White House has said the President was involved in drafting an initial statement after news of the meeting broke last year.

The statement said the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption program, though Mr Trump Jr later released the emails showing he agreed to the sit-down after he was promised information on Ms Clinton.

The emails also show he accepted the meeting despite it being described as part of a Russian Government effort to aid his father’s campaign.

Asked in the interview if his father was involved in drafting the statement, Mr Trump Jr said: “I don’t know. I never spoke to my father about it”.

The transcripts provide a timeline of the days leading up to the meeting as well as personal misgivings about the appropriateness of a Russian lawyer meeting with a US presidential campaign.

Music publicist Rob Goldstone, who arranged the meeting at the request of pop singer Emin Agalarov, said he thought the meeting was a “bad idea”.

“I believed it was a bad idea and that we shouldn’t do it. And I gave the reason for that being that I’m a music publicist. Politics, I knew nothing about,” Mr Goldstone said, adding that neither did Emin Agalarov nor his father, Aras.

The Agalarovs had bonded with the Trumps during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Like Mr Trump Jr and Mr Kushner, who released a public statement about the meeting last year, Mr Goldstone said the meeting was disappointing.

He said he reported back to Emin Agalarov that “this was the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever asked me to do. I’ve just sat in a meeting about adoption.”

The release of the documents comes as Mr Trump launched a Twitter tirade about the US trade negotiations with China.

“We have not seen China’s demands yet, which should be few in that previous US Administrations have done so poorly in negotiating,” he wrote.

“China has seen our demands. There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe, the meetings haven’t even started yet!

“The US has very little to give, because it has given so much over the years. China has much to give!”







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