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Senate committee reveals details of Trump Jr. meeting with Russia

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 16/05/2018 DENIS SLATTERY

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Donald Trump Jr. doesn’t remember if he’s ever discussed the federal probe into Russian election meddling with his father.

The hard-to-swallow claim from President Trump’s eldest son comes as details of Trump Jr.’s campaign meeting with Russians promising dirt on his father’s Democratic rival were revealed Wednesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released more than 2,500 pages of testimony, notes and statements from the eight people who attended the June 9 , 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Trump Jr. was asked during his testimony whether he and his father have ever talked about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — which the President has publicly called a “witch hunt.”

No , not that I remember,” Trump Jr. said, according to the transcripts.

Asked if the President has “ever expressed to you his frustrations with an investigation of Russian interference,” Trump Jr. again said “no.”

He also said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with accepting the sit-down after being told of a Russian government effort to help his father win the White House and the offer of “dirt” on his father’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

“I didn’t think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no,” he said.

The meeting — and a misleading statement about the face-to-face reportedly penned by the President — is being eyed by investigators working on Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Mueller is investigating Russian election interference, whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Kremlin and possible obstruction of justice on part of the President.

In addition to Trump Jr., the committee interviewed four other people who attended the conference — music publicist Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting; Rinat Akhmetshin, a prominent Russian-American lobbyist; Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer, and a translator.

Donald Trump, Jr. is seen leaving Manhattan Criminal Court on February 28, 2018. © Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News Donald Trump, Jr. is seen leaving Manhattan Criminal Court on February 28, 2018.

The panel was not able to interview Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, or Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, even though both attended the meeting.

The committee did not interview Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the center of the meeting who later admitted to having deep ties to the Kremlin and acting as “an informant” in the past. She has denied she was acting on behalf of the Russian government.

The panel released Veselnitskaya’s written responses to a letter that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent her last year.

Goldstone set up the meeting because he had been assured that Veselnitskaya was “well connected” and had “damaging material” on Clinton.

Trump Jr. emailed that “if it's what you say I love it.”

But the Russian lawyer offered nothing more than a presentation about adoptions, Trump Jr. said, infuriating the Trump team.

“I was really paying no attention until maybe somebody reacted. After a few minutes of this labored presentation, Jared Kushner, who is sitting next to me, appeared somewhat agitated,” he said.

Trump Jr. admitted to lawmakers that his father may have weighed in directly as his lawyers drafted the initial official response to reports about the meeting.

“He may have commented through Hope Hicks,” Trump Jr. told the Senate, referring to one of the President’s closest and longest-serving aides. “I believe some (of Trump’s comments) may have been (included in the formal response), but this was an effort through lots of people, mostly counsel.”

The first public response said the focus of the meeting was the adoption of Russian children and that it “was not a campaign issue at the time.”

Trump Jr. added that Hicks asked him if he wanted to talk to to his father about the statement, but he “chose not to because I didn’t want to bring him into something that he had nothing to do with.”

Trump Jr. said in a statement Wednesday that he was “candid and forthright” in answering questions by the panel.

“The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trump Jr. also admitted that he received direct messages via Twitter from WikiLeaks asking if he would leak his father’s tax return, according to the transcripts.

He said the organization would “reach out on a few occasions sort of passing along news” and suggesting that he tweet it.

He said he thinks the only time he responded was to say, “Hey, when (am I) going to receive the next leak”?

He also recalled walking in on a meeting between then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Kushner and Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn after the election.

“I came back from the gym and they were in there,” Trump Jr. told the committee.

The trio were in Trump Jr.’s office, he told lawmakers, adding that he had not known about the meeting before he stumbled upon it.

Other details from the documents reveal that Goldstone, who arranged the meeting at the request of Russian 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.

The Agalarovs became close with the Trumps during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Like Trump Jr. and Kushner, who released a public statement 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.”

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