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Trump-Russia collusion investigations

Donald Trump Jnr ‘couldn’t recall’ discussing Russia probe with his father, Senate Committee transcripts reveal

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

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 9:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 9:56pm

Donald Trump Jnr told the Senate Judiciary Committee last year that he couldn’t remember whether he had discussed the Russia investigation with his father, according to transcripts released on Wednesday of his interview with the panel.

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

Trump Jnr deflected multiple questions during the interview, saying he couldn’t recall. 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.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry,“ Trump Jnr said on Wednesday in a statement released by a spokesman. “The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee.”

The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee
Donald Trump Jnr

In addition to Trump Jnr, the committee interviewed four other people who attended the 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 centre of the meeting. But the panel released her written responses to a letter that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley 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 chairman, even though both attended. But the committee released a short page of notes Manafort took during the meeting.

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 in the US election, 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 programme, though Trump Jnr 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.

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 US 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 Jnr 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.”