Senate committee to interview Trump Jr. behind closed doors

Casey Dawson
September 8, 2017

Congressional investigators are questioning Donald Trump Jr. about Russian meddling in his father's presidential campaign past year, including a meeting the younger Trump held with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who purportedly was going to hand them "damaging information" about Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee remain divided on the next steps in the investigation, with Democrats clamoring to bring the younger Mr. Trump in front of the committee for an open, public hearing.

His description of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, delivered in an opening statement at the outset of a closed-door Senate Judiciary Committee staff interview, provided his most detailed account of an encounter that has attracted the attention of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Congressional committees investigating Russia's alleged efforts to sway last year's United States presidential election in Trump's favor have sought to learn whether members of the Trump team conspired with Russian Federation. Cohen said he sent the message on the recommendation of Trump associate Felix Sater, a Russian-born developer and US citizen. Emails obtained by The Times revealed that Trump Jr. orchestrated the meeting.

"I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did", he said.

Donald Trump Jr., in a prepared statement to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators for a meeting behind closed doors, said it was important to learn about Clinton's "fitness" to be president.

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Trump Jr. was explicitly asked whether he either took any of the Russian participants in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting to see his father - now President Donald Trump - or whether he told his father about the meeting after, sources said. The Trump campaign has denied the accusations; Trump Jr. did so again Thursday. Allegations that his campaign colluded with Russian Federation in an effort to claim the White House plagued the young administration.

Another Senate panel, the intelligence committee, is also weighing an interview with Trump Jr.

Senators had sought to interview the president's son publicly in July but he instead offered to be privately interviewed and provide documents. A year later, when the New York Times reported on this meeting, the president himself dictated a misleading statement on why the meeting was held in the first place. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sat in on the meeting.

Democrats have argued that this meeting may have been a part of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, a charge Trump Jr. denies. Kushner has met with that staff, as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee.

"Nonetheless, at the time, I thought I should listen to what Rob and his colleagues had to say", Trump Jr. said in his statement, referring to Rob Goldstone, a music publicist acquaintance of Trump's. He says his fear is the meeting was a "prelude or overture to more coordinated activity" between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation and says he wants to know if "afterward there was obstruction of justice".

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