Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he couldn’t remember whether he had discussed the Russian investigation with his father.
The Senate panel released thousands of pages of transcripts from interviews conducted as part of the congressional investigation of Russia election interference, including an hours-long interview with the president’s eldest son.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry,” Trump Jr. said Wednesday in a statement. “The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the Committee.”
Trump Jr. told the panel that he did not recall whether his father, President Donald Trump, had known about a meeting he helped set up with a Russian attorney promising damaging campaign information about Hillary Clinton.
“I mean, obviously he’s aware of it now because he’s read it, it’s been in the papers, but that’s the extent of my knowledge of his knowledge about it,” Trump Jr. testified.
He said his father did not express surprise about the meeting or ask why he wasn’t told about it.
“Frankly, by the time anyone was aware of it, which was summer of this year (2017), as I stated earlier, I wouldn’t have wanted to get him involved in it because it had nothing to do with him.”
Trump Jr. said he never spoke to his father about a statement about the meeting that later proved misleading, although he admits the president had some involvement in producing the document — which the special counsel is investigating as possible obstruction of justice.
“He may have commented through Hope Hicks,” Trump Jr. said, referring to the former White House aide.
The president’s son said some of Trump’s comments provided through Hicks may have been incorporated into the final statement.
“I believe some may have been, but this was an effort through lots of people , mostly counsel,” Trump Jr. said. “She asked if I wanted to actually speak to him, and I chose not to because I didn’t want to bring him into some thing that he had nothing to do with.”
Trump Jr. said the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, did not provide damaging campaign information but instead wanted to discuss the Magnitsky Act imposing sanctions on Russian oligarchs and adoption laws.
“I proceeded to quickly and politely end the meeting by telling Ms. Veselnitskaya that because my daughter was a private citizen that there did not seem to be any point for having this discussion,” Trump Jr. said.
Senate investigators also asked Trump Jr. to identify the person he spoke to by phone in between phone calls with Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop singer acquaintance who brokered the Trump Tower meeting.
Phone logs show Agalarov called Trump Jr. at 4:04 p.m. on June 6, 2016, to discuss the Veselnitskaya meeting, and then the president’s son had a four-minute call with someone who used a blocked number before calling back the Russian singer at 4:31 p.m.
A Senate investigator asked Trump Jr. whether his father used a blocked number, and he said he did not know.