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Donald Trump Jr. says there was 'nothing to change' in testimony before Senate panel

CNN logo CNN 6/12/2019 By Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju and Kara Scannell, CNN

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Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday that he did not tell his father about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and that he didn't pay close attention to the Trump Tower Moscow project because it was one of many potential deals that had been in the works, according to a source close to Trump Jr.

The source said that Trump Jr. also reiterated that he did not tell anyone ahead of time besides the participants about the Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, telling the panel that he did not know what campaign deputy Rick Gates was talking about after Gates told the special counsel that the President's eldest son mentioned a potential offer of negative information at a campaign meeting.

Trump Jr. told reporters after the two-and-a-half hour closed-door session Wednesday that he did not have to correct his previous testimony and was "not at all" worried about perjury.

"The reality was there's nothing to change," Trump Jr. told reporters after emerging from the committee's secure spaces. "I don't think I changed anything of what I said because there was nothing to change. I'm glad this is finally over and we're able to put final clarity on that. And I think the committee understands that."

Trump Jr. added that if he needed to clarify anything it was due to President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, whom he noted was "serving time right now for lying to these very investigative bodies."

In the Mueller report, Cohen said that he spoke to Trump Jr. about the Trump Tower Moscow project on multiple occasions. And Cohen told Congress that he believed he had heard Trump Jr. whispering to his father about the Trump Tower meeting in the days leading up to it.

In Wednesday's interview, Trump Jr. told the committee that he would never whisper in his dad's ear about the meeting, the source said, because if he had wanted to say something he wouldn't have kept it a secret.

Donald Trump Jr., Richard Burr are posing for a picture: Donald Trump Jr. and Ruchard Burr © Getty Images Donald Trump Jr. and Ruchard Burr Trump Jr. dismissed that he was extensively briefed by Cohen about the Trump Tower Moscow project, saying that Cohen rarely executed a deal so he had little reason to pay attention to anything he may have been pitching, according to the source.

Trump Jr. was also questioned about whether he was aware of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's conversations with Russians and Roger Stone's discussions with WikiLeaks, the source said. The source said that several topics did not come up during Wednesday's interview included the initial misleading statement crafted on Air Force One about the Trump Tower meeting and the hush money payments Cohen facilitated in the run up to the 2016 election to silence allegations that Trump had affairs with two women.

Trump Jr. did not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights not to answer questions in response to any committee inquiry, according to the source.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina and the panel's top Democrat Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia declined to comment on Trump Jr.'s testimony Wednesday after they left the interview.

"I'm not going to comment on anything but let him take him at his word," Burr said when asked about Trump Jr.'s public comments.

The President's eldest son on Wednesday appeared for a second time before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which issued a subpoena for Trump Jr.'s testimony after he resisted coming voluntarily.

The subpoena to Trump Jr. — the first issued to a member of the President's family — prompted a sharp backlash from GOP allies of Trump Jr. against Burr, a Republican, including from the President.

Burr has declined repeatedly to comment on his decision to subpoena Trump Jr. since it was revealed last month, but the committee did not back down in response to the criticism that his committee needed to speak to Trump Jr. again. Ultimately, the panel struck a deal with Trump Jr. for him to testify for two-to-four hours on roughly a half-dozen topics.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is still finishing its two-year investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling. Burr said the panel has just a handful of witnesses left before wrapping up the probe.

Trump Jr. testified before the Senate Intelligence, House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary Committees in 2017, and the Senate Judiciary panel released a transcript of its interview. Since the release of the Mueller report, questions have arisen about discrepancies between Trump Jr.'s testimony and what other witnesses told both Congress and the special counsel's team.

While Trump Jr. said he only told Manafort and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner about the Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer was offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, Gates told Mueller Trump Jr. spoke about possible negative information on the Clinton Foundation at a campaign meeting.

And Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was only "peripherally aware" of the Trump Tower Moscow project, but Cohen told the special counsel he discussed the project on multiple occasions with the President's eldest son.

Cohen is now serving a three-year prison sentence, including on a conviction of lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, and he also testified before the Senate panel for a second time earlier this year.

The first time Trump Jr. testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was questioned by committee staff with no senators present, which was the committee's protocol for its first round of Russia investigation interviews. On Wednesday, senators attended the interview but are not asking questions directly, instead passing notes to committee staff if they had questions, according to Senate aides.

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

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