Donald Trump Jr. says he never told his father, then-candidate Donald Trump, about the meeting he took during the campaign with Russian operatives who’d suggested they had dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to documents released by a congressional probe Wednesday.
The younger Mr. Trump also said he didn’t tell law enforcement about the meeting, saying it didn’t turn out to be substantive enough to raise any red flags.
He said the lack of substance was also why he didn’t tell his father afterward.
The committee released thousands of pages of documents Wednesday from its probe into the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower, which was suggested by a business associate of the Trump family.
The younger Mr. Trump said the associate, Rob Goldstone, had suggested he could put the campaign in touch with someone who could “incriminate” Mrs. Clinton over her own “dealing with Russia.”
Mr. Trump said he went into the meeting with skepticism, and without knowing who would be there. He said it quickly became clear it was useless, with the focus on Russian adoptions instead of the campaign.
There was no offer of hacking, no suggestion of providing emails, and nothing that suggested the potential for collusion, he told Senate investigators.
Mr. Trump also tried to couch his seeming enthusiasm heading into the meeting, when he responded to Mr. Goldstone’s offer of incriminating information with “if it’s what you say, I love it.” In his interview with the committee Mr. Trump said the comment was not meant to show interest in anti-Clinton dirt, but rather as “a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob’s gesture.”
In addition to Mr. Goldstone and the Trump team, the meeting was attended by Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who now says she was an informant for the Russian government; Rinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist who worked with Ms. Veselnitskayal; Irakly Kaveladze, vice president of the Crocus Group; and a translator.
Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, who provided a written statement but didn’t face the committee’s questions, said he also quickly determined the meeting “was a waste of our time.” It was so useless, he said, that he emailed an assistant and asked to be called on his cellphone to give him an excuse to leave.
“No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted,” Mr. Kushner said. Mr. Kushner is the president’s son-in-law.
Democrats saw the information in a much different light.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said it was clear to her that the younger Mr. Trump and others at the meeting went into it hoping Russia would provide help, and they were “frustrated and angry that the meeting did not produce enough damaging information on their opponent.”
Ms. Feinstein said they still consider the June 9 meeting to be surrounded in questions, and said their efforts to get to the bottom of it have been stymied by Republicans’ unwillingness to subpoena other witnesses.
She said the Trump team should have reported the meeting to authorities.
And she said the White House and the campaign should reveal more about what she said were “numerous other contacts” between the campaign and Russian-linked people.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer criticized the committee investigation as a sham.
“There is much left to investigate, many witnesses still to be heard,” Mr. Schumer said.
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