Trump Jr: Nothing wrong with meeting Russian for dirt on Hillary

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee released thousands of pages of testimony Wednesday 
  • Donald Trump Jr. said he can't remember if he discussed the Russia investigation with President Trump
  • Trump Jr. said he was 'listening to information' about Hillary Clinton at the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 
  • Said he doesn't know if his father was involved in drafting an inaccurate statement about what happened in Trump Tower meeting
  •  British PR Rob Goldstone, who helped set up Trump Tower meeting, described the 'labored' presentation by Kremlin-linked lawyer
  • A pop singer had promised 'damaging' information on Hillary Clinton
  • Instead she repeatedly veered toward the Magnitsky Act which sanctions Russians 
  • The meandering presentation 'infuriated' Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner

By Associated Press and Geoff Earle, Deputy U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com

Published: 09:10 EDT, 16 May 2018 | Updated: 10:29 EDT, 16 May 2018

Donald Trump Jr. testified he 'loved' the offer of getting potentially incriminating information on Hillary Clinton – but said he was only 'willing to listen' when the offer got made.

In testimony unsealed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, the president's eldest son got quizzed about his response to an email offering dirt on Clinton in 2016, where he told a British music exec: 'If it's what you say, I love it.'

Asked the reason, Trump Jr. responded that it was because he wanted 'potential information about an oppoenent.'

'Potential incriminating information on Hillary Clinton?' a lawyer asked him.

'Yes,' he responded.  

In this April 17, 2017 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, speaks to media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.  Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer who was promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016. That's according to transcripts of his interview with the panel earlier this year.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
In this April 17, 2017 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, speaks to media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.  Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer who was promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016. That's according to transcripts of his interview with the panel earlier this year.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In this April 17, 2017 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, speaks to media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer who was promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016. That's according to transcripts of his interview with the panel earlier this year. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

But Trump Jr.'s memory grew hazy when asked if he was also referring to a second part of the offer: that it 'is part of Russia and its government' s support for Mr. Trump.'

Asked if he loved that also, Trump Jr. responded: 'I don't know. I d on'  recall.' 

Trump Jr. told theCommittee that he couldn't remember whether he had discussed the Russia investigation with his father, according to transcripts released Wednesday of his interview with the panel.

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

Don Jr. said he was interested in 'listening to information' about Clinton after being promised potentially 'damaging' information.

He said he had 'no way of assessing' where the information came from, but that he was 'willing to listen.  

Trump Jr. deflected multiple questions during the interview, including whether he discussed the Russia probe with his father. He also said he didn't 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 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 center 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, Trump's son-in-law, or Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, even though both attended the Trump Tower meeting. But the committee released a short page of notes Manafort took on his phone during the meeting.

British music PR Rob Goldstone helped set up the meeting
British music PR Rob Goldstone helped set up the meeting

British music PR Rob Goldstone helped set up the meeting

A picture taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow. She 'infuriated' Jared Kushner with her meandering presentation, after a promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton
A picture taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow. She 'infuriated' Jared Kushner with her meandering presentation, after a promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton

A picture taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow. She 'infuriated' Jared Kushner with her meandering presentation, after a promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton

Trump Jr. said in a statement: ''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 Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein, as well as other members of the Committee and their staff for their courtesy and professionalism.' 

Mueller has brought several unrelated charges against 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 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 Trump Jr. later released the emails showing he agreed to the sit-down after he was promised information on 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.

Rob Goldstone said he regretted helping set up the meeting
Rob Goldstone said he regretted helping set up the meeting

Rob Goldstone said he regretted helping set up the meeting

Asked in the interview if his father was involved in drafting the statement, Trump 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 U.S. 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,' 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 Trump Jr. and Kushner, who released a public statement about the meeting last year, 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.'

Future short-time White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci reassured British music executive Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting, last summer.  

'If we remain consistent and united I don't envisage any issues we can't ride out,' Scaramucci told him.

According to testimony by Goldstone, Veselnitskaya 'infuriated' the president's son in law with her meandering presentation. After attendees expressed confusion about it, she ran through her material again, he testified, returning to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian individuals.  

'After a few minutes of this labored presentation, Jared Kushner, who i s sitting next to me, appeared somewhat agitated by this and said, I really have no idea what you're talking about. Could you please focus a bit more and maybe just start again?' Goldstone testified.

'And I recall that she began the presentation exactly where she had begun it last time, almost word f or word, which seemed, by his body language , to infuriate him even more,' Goldstone said. 

'And Don Jr. then said, I' m really not following this, what you're saying. At which point, she said, what I would really like to speak about is the Magnitsky Act, Goldstone told lawmakers.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats wrote in response to the release: 'The committee’s staff interviews reveal that top Trump campaign officials were frustrated and angry that the meeting did not produce enough damaging information on their opponent.

"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.”

 

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