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Defiant Trump Jr.: Not troubled that I met with Russian

  • FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2016 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., son of President-elect Donald Trump waits for an elevator at Trump Tower in New York. Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he couldn't remember whether he had discussed the Russia investigation with his father, according to transcripts released Wednesday of his interview with the panel. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Carolyn Kaster

  • Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, speaks to media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. ap file photo

  • FILE - In a Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., son of President-elect Donald Trump, walks from the elevator at Trump Tower, in New York. Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he couldn't remember whether he had discussed the Russia investigation with his father, according to transcripts released Wednesday of his interview with the panel. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) Carolyn Kaster

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., goes behind closed doors as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee arrive to vote on Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, and to meet with former national security chiefs on Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • In this Nov. 6, 2017 photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. A federal judge in Washington says special counsel Robert Mueller was working within his authority when he brought charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., emerges from behind closed doors after members of the Senate Intelligence Committee met with former national security chiefs in their probe of Moscow's meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The panel also voted to advance the nomination of Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite



Associated Press
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — Questioned intently by a Senate committee, President Donald Trump’s son struck a firmly unapologetic tone, deflected many queries and said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in hopes of election-season dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to transcripts released Wednesday.

Asked if he was troubled by the idea that the meeting in June 2016 was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race, Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t give it much thought.

“I don’t know that it alarmed me, but I like I said, I don’t know and I don’t know that I was all that focused on it at the time,” Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in the closed-door interview last year.

The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump Jr. and others who attended the New York meeting at which they expected to receive compromising information about Trump’s Democratic opponent. The panel also released more than 700 pages of exhibits including numerous emails, heavily redacted phone logs and court depositions.

The Trump Tower meeting is a key point of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible election collusion between Trump aides and the Kremlin.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Senate intelligence committee said it stands behind a 2017 assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in the election to hurt Clinton and help Trump. That conclusion differs from a House intelligence committee report released last month.

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced in January that he wanted to release transcripts from his committee’s interviews because people “deserve to have all the facts, not just one side of this story.”

According to the transcripts, Trump Jr. responded to dozens of queries — including about emails and phone calls leading up to the meeting — by saying he could not recall or had “no idea.” He said he did not alert his father to the meeting beforehand and he had never discussed with him the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.

The transcripts reveal some new details about how the meeting came to be arranged and efforts afterward to mitigate the political damage arising from its disclosure.

They also show the dissatisfaction of Trump Jr. and other campaign figures, including brother-in-law Jared Kushner, when the meeting failed to yield the harmful Clinton information they thought they’d get — as well as the increasing panic of one of the meeting participants who feared his reputation would be ruined by his role in setting it up.

Trump Jr. had high hopes. After music publicist Rob Goldstone promised him “very interesting” information, including documents “that would incriminate Hillary,” he responded via email, “if it’s what you say I love it.”

Throughout the private Senate interview, Trump Jr. appeared unapologetic about having taken the meeting, which Goldstone had told him would be a way to receive damaging Clinton information from a well-connected Russian government lawyer.

“I didn’t think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no,” said the president’s son.

Though the transcripts show he repeatedly answered questions by saying he couldn’t recall, Trump Jr. described himself as “candid and forthright” in a statement Wednesday,

He answered “No, I don’t recall” when asked if he had spoken with his father about the Russia investigation.

He also did not recall the attendance of a Russian-American lobbyist who — in a quirky sartorial detail revealed in the transcripts — was wearing pink jeans and a pink T-shirt that day.

Trump Jr. also made several calls to blocked numbers as he was setting up the meeting, but said he didn’t remember who he had called. He also said he didn’t know if his father used a blocked number.