Donald Trump Jr. denies collusion allegations during meeting with Senate investigators
Leigh Vogel/WireImage/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee staffers on Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. denied any wrongdoing in his meeting with a Russian lawyer during his father’s presidential campaign, according to the prepared remarks he delivered investigators Thursday morning that were obtained by ABC News.
In the statement, the president’s eldest son said he took that June 9, 2016, meeting with the Russian lawyer because he wanted to determine Clinton’s “fitness” as a candidate. He said he was skeptical about taking the meeting in the first place and that, “as it later turned out, my skepticism was justified.”
“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. “To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out.”
He said the meeting quickly turned from a confusing allegation about Russian support for the DNC to the Magnitsky Act, which he had never heard of before that day, he said.
“It was clear to me that her real purpose in asking for the meeting all along was to discuss Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act,” he said of the act concerning Russian adoptions.
“The meeting lasted 20-30 minutes, and Rob, Emin [Agalarov, a pop singer and acquaintance of both Goldstone and Trump’s] and I never discussed the meeting again. I do not recall ever discussing it with Jared, Paul or anyone else. In short, I gave it no further thought,” he said.
The written statement concludes by saying, “As is clear from the above, I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did. I am grateful for the opportunity to help resolve any lingering concerns that may exist regarding these events. I am very proud of the campaign my father ran and was honored to be a part of it.”
The president’s eldest son arrived at the Capitol sometime before 9:40 a.m. and was not pictured entering the committee room. He was still in the room answering questions from Senate staffers as of 12:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, the day before the meeting, Trump Jr.’s legal team released a statement saying that they “look forward to a professional and productive meeting and appreciate the opportunity to assist the committee.”
The meeting in question took place in June 2016, more than a month after his father became the presumptive Republican nominee. Music publicist Goldstone, whom Trump Jr. knew through the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Russia, reached out to Trump Jr. about the meeting that eventually included Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
In the initial email to arrange the meeting, Goldstone wrote that a client of his “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
Trump Jr. said he asked his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to attend the meeting, which was held in Trump Tower. Trump Jr. denied gaining any information about Clinton from the meeting.
The meeting was publicly disclosed in July 2017, and Trump Jr. released several differing statements about the meeting before releasing copies of the emails that show the scheduling of the meeting.
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