In what is expected to lead to public testimony in the near future, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., met in a closed-door meeting with Senate judiciary committee staffers for five hours on Thursday.
Although the substance of the younger Trump’s testimony was not available to the public, a copy of his opening statement to staffers and the handful of senators present was obtained by The New York Times.
Describing how he was torn over whether to meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and the promise of obtaining information harmful to the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump said he intended to discuss what was learned with his attorneys.
“To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out. Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration,” Trump Jr. told Senate staffers.
Trump later declared in his statement the meeting with Veselnitskaya yielded no useful information on Clinton.
The younger Trump’s June 2016 meeting is part of White House special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between the Republican presidential campaign and Russian officials.
According to an Associated Press source that sat-in on the interview, Trump Jr. said he hadn’t told his father about the meeting in question, which was arranged by British music publicist Rob Goldstone, who has Russian business interests and spent a significant amount of time in Moscow during 2016.
When the meeting became known to the public, Trump Jr. initially stated the purpose of the meeting was centered on Russian adoptions, but later admitted the meeting had been arranged to pass on information damaging to Mrs. Clinton.
Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign official Paul Manafort were also present at the meeting held at Trump Tower.
[Roll Call] [Reuters] [AP] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via BBC]