“The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee,” Trump Jr. said.
Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday responded to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s release of closed-door interview transcripts with attendees of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that involved him, top Trump campaign officials, and a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry,” Trump Jr. said in a statement provided to Business Insider. “The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee.”
The June 2016 meeting, which was attended by Trump Jr., White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, was presented as a chance for Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to provide the Trump team with damaging information about 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Once the meeting became public last year, Trump Jr. initially said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss Russian adoption policy. But the story began to shift in subsequent days. Trump Jr. eventually released emails between him and the music publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped coordinate the meeting with Veselnitskaya.
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In the email exchange, Veselnitskaya was identified as a “Russian government attorney.” Goldstone told Trump she wanted to share some information about Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. has said that Veselnitskaya did not ultimately provide damaging information on Clinton. In the months that followed, it was revealed that President Donald Trump was involved with crafting one of Trump Jr.’s responses to the reporting on the meeting.
The Senate Judiciary Committee transcripts, which contained about 2,000 pages worth of information, showed that Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, had started to reach out to participants in the meeting to get their stories straight before the meeting was reported publicly.
Goldstone told the committee that he had warned his client, Russian pop star and developer Emin Agalarov — who had ties to Trump through the Miss Universe pageant — that setting up the Trump Tower meeting was a bad idea, to which Agalarov said “it doesn’t matter.” Goldstone testified that he, like Trump Jr., attended the meeting expecting Veselnitskaya to provide a “smoking gun” to help the Trump campaign.
Trump Jr. told the committee that he was disappointed with the meeting, which he said shifted into a discussion of the Magnitsky Act. The law imposed sanctions on Russia for human rights abuses, which in turn prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt US adoptions of Russian children.
“All else being equal, I wouldn’t have wanted to waste 20 minutes hearing about something that I wasn’t supposed to be meeting about,” Trump Jr. told the committee.
Those present in the meeting who were interviewed by the committee included:
Skye Gould/Business Insider
Kushner and Manafort declined to be interviewed, while Veselnitskaya provided written answers to the committee.
The panel’s Democrats, in a joint response to the release, said that based on the interviews, Trump allies present in the meeting showed signs of dejection that they were unable to obtain negative information on Clinton. Goldstone described Kushner as angered during the meeting.
“Their efforts to conceal the meeting and its true purpose are consistent with a larger pattern of false statements about the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia,” the Democrats wrote.
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