4 takeaways about the Trump Tower meeting from newly released transcripts
Lengthy transcripts released Wednesday of Donald Trump Jr.‘s 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee interview shed light on exactly what happened during a Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump’s son, and others who attended a June 9, 2016, meeting, at which they expected to receive dirt about Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The interviews were conducted between July 2017 and March 2018.
The transcripts were released just hours before the Senate intelligence committee announced it stands behind a 2017 assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in the election to hurt Clinton and help Trump.
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Here are some takeaways from the newly released transcripts:
Lack of memory — and communication
Trump Jr. deflected multiple questions during his interview, saying he couldn’t recall whether he discussed the Russia probe with his father.
He also said he couldn’t remember whether he spoke with his dad on the day the meeting was arranged.
Trump Jr. also said he never spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump about his statement released last July, after the meeting came to light.
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.”
Meeting a ‘bad idea’
The transcripts also 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 U.S. 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 told lawmakers, adding that neither did Emin Agalarov nor his father, Aras.
Aras is a developer and former business partner of the president.
Goldstone later said the meeting was a “waste of time” for him, and he didn’t anticipate adoption to be the focus of the meeting.
Meeting was not a secret: Goldstone
During his interview, Goldstone also said the meeting was never meant to be a secret.
He told lawmakers that he likely told close friends about it.
He also said he shared his location as the Trump Tower on Facebook on the day of the meeting.
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Paul Manafort’s notes
The committee also released one page of notes that Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, took during the 2016 meeting.
His notes mention “Russian adoption by American families” and Bill Browder, a British citizen who has spearheaded a U.S. sanctions law — known as the Magnitsky Act — that targets Russian officials over human rights abuses.
The relatively cryptic notes also contain a reference to “active sponsors of RNC,” ″tied into Cheney” and appear to make reference to offshore companies in Cyprus.
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.
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Trump Jr.’s response to transcripts
The president’s son responded to the release of the transcripts in a statement reported by CNN Wednesday.
“The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the Committee,” he wrote.
“I once again thank Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein, as well as other members of the Committee and their staff for their courtesy and professionalism.”
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