The Senate Judiciary Committee has released nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts including from interviews conducted with Donald Trump Jr. and others who participated in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Trump Jr. told the committee that he was “skeptical” going into the meeting, which had been billed to him as a chance to learn incriminating information about Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but turned out not live up to its billing, Fox News reported.
The meeting has reportedly been a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Music promoter Rob Goldstone arranged (and attended) the meeting at the request of Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov.
“In his e-mail to me, Rob suggested that someone had official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary Clinton and her dealings with Russia and that the information would be very useful to the campaign,” Trump Jr. told the committee, noting he was “skeptical of his outreach” due to the fact that he only knew Goldstone as a “colorful music promoter.”
He responded to Goldstone’s email, writing, “I love it,” but explained to the committee it was “simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob’s gesture.”
Trump Jr. testified that no information was passed along to him about Clinton.
“My skepticism was justified,” he said. “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.”
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Trump Jr. told the committee that had information been given to him about Clinton, he would have consulted with legal counsel in order to “make an informed decision as to whether to give it any further consideration.”
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who was at the meeting, did not testify before the committee, but took brief notes on his phone. Those notes, which were released on Wednesday, mention Russian adoption and other topics, but nothing about Clinton.
Veselnitskaya told the committee via a written response that no information specific to Clinton was provided in the meeting. She also lamented the “kind of apocalyptic Hollywood scenario that a private conversation between a lawyer and a businessman can be turned into,” according to Fox.
Veselnitskaya added that she and Trump Jr. had “a very simple and short conversation.”
He “asked if I had any financial documents proving that what may have been illegally obtained funds were also being donated to Mrs. Clinton’s foundation.” She said she replied that “I did not and that it was not my issue,” and with that, “(t)he meeting, essentially, ended there,” CBS News reported.
Trump Jr. testified that “we went our separate ways and Rob Goldstone came up to me and apologized.”
“Essentially he apologized for what he believed was wasting our time,” Trump Jr. said.
Trump Jr. was also asked whether he believed Goldstone “duped” him into taking a meeting under “false pretenses” in order to “grab” his attention.
“I imagine there was an element of showmanship involved, yes,” Trump Jr. replied.
The committee also released the testimony of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. His firm commissioned former British spy Christopher Steele to compile the so-called Trump-Russia dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee.
Simpson claimed to had have no prior knowledge of Veselnitskaya’s Trump Tower meeting, though they reportedly had been together at a New York courthouse hours beforehand and met afterward that same day, as well.
Veselnitskaya denied meeting with Simpson, according to CBS.
Trump Jr. issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the release of the transcripts, saying, “I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary committee in its inquiry.”
“The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee. I once again thank Chairman (Chuck) Grassley and Ranking Member (Diane) Feinstein, as well as other members of the committee and their staff for their courtesy and professionalism.”
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