Donald Trump Jr. told Senate investigators Thursday that he was skeptical about a 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney he expected to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton – but decided to go in case it revealed information concerning Clinton’s “fitness” to be president.
“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,” the president’s eldest son told investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee in a statement released by the Trump Organization.
“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. said in the statement. “I also note that at this time there was not the focus on Russian activities that there is today.”
Trump Jr. was interviewed Thursday by the panel’s investigators for about five hours as part of the committee’s ongoing probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. He did not speak to reporters outside the interview room.
The committee is seeking answers about a June 9, 2016 meeting that Trump Jr. took at Trump Tower with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. released email correspondence in July of this year showing he took the meeting after he was promised it would yield dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The meeting, which took place five months before the Nov. 8 election, was also attended by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
Other attendees included Rob Goldstone, an entertainment publicist who first reached out to Trump Jr. about potentially damaging information on Clinton; Anatoli Samochornov, a Russian-born American translator brought to the meeting by Veselnitskaya; and Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist.
Trump Jr. continues to maintain he did not collude with Russia during the campaign.
“I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did,” Trump Jr. said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to help resolve any lingering concerns that may exist regarding these events. I am very proud of the campaign my father ran and was honored to be a part of it.”
Committee leaders have said they may call the president’s son to testify at a public hearing in the future. If he refuses, the committee can subpoena him.
Trump Jr. also is expected to be interviewed by investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own Russia probe. Special counsel Robert Mueller also is investigating the June 2016 meeting as part of a separate inquiry. Mueller is looking into possible criminal activity.
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Source: USA Today