The Senate Judiciary Committee has released about 2,500 pages of testimony and material related to the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian government lawyer Natalia Veselnitsaya. Six others attended.
The release of the Trump Tower transcripts and hundreds of pages of related materials provides the most comprehensive view yet into the circumstances surrounding the controversial meeting and the details of the roughly 20-minute encounter, in which Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kusher and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were expecting dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The meeting -- and whether President Donald Trump's knew about it -- has become a central focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as the congressional Russia investigations. Trump Jr. has told House investigators that he did not communicate with his father about the meeting before it happened. The White House has said the President weighed in on a misleading statement his son issued after the meeting became publicly known, more than a year later.
There is a second suggestion in congressional documents that Trump Jr. may have talked with his father at the time he was arranging the Trump Tower meeting. Trump Jr. told both House intelligence committee and Senate Judiciary Committee investigators that he spoke with someone who had a blocked number but that he couldn't remember whom.
Other witnesses have said that Donald Trump has a blocked number. If investigators could establish that Trump Jr. and his father talked in June 2016 about the meeting, it would undercut President Trump's denials that he knew at the time about the delegation of Russians who visited New York and their offers of help to the campaign.
Trump Jr. deflected multiple questions during the interview, including whether he discussed the Russia probe with his father.
According to the transcripts, Trump Jr. also said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with attending the Trump Tower meeting in which he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump Jr. said he welcomed the chance for the public to review his testimony.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry,” he said in a statement to ABC News. “The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the Committee.”
President Trump and his staff have insisted he was not involved in the meeting, but the Washington Post reported in late-July 2017 that the president dictated his son's first misleading statement about the meeting to the Times, saying the meeting was about adoptions and not campaign-related issues.
After the incident, Trump's legal team spokesman, Mark Carrollo, according to Michael Wolf in his book "Fire and Fury, "seeing no good outcome — and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice — quit."
Shortly after his election, President Trump’s spokeswoman had said that no campaign officials had dealings with Russians during the campaign. Testimony from the newly released testimony show that the president’s lawyers and associates were anxious about any reports on Trump Jr.’s meeting, which contradicted that claim.
“[Trump’s lawyers are] concerned because it links Don Jr. to officials from Russia, which he has always denied meeting,” [Rob] Goldstone wrote in an email to Emin Agalarov on June 26, 2017, a few weeks before the New York Times first reported on the meeting.
Ultimately, lawyers working for the Trump Organization crafted statements they asked other participants in the meeting to distribute, a move that could draw scrutiny from Mueller if it involved communicating with witnesses or otherwise hiding the true purpose of the meeting from investigators.
After Goldstone was interviewed by The Washington Post for the first time about his participation in the meeting in July 2017, the promoter tried to assure two Trump organization lawyers that he too had offered a similar account.
“I said only that the meeting appeared to have been about adoption issues and was quickly terminated,” he wrote in an email at the time.
Meanwhile, Goldstone secretly fretted about the scrutiny he predicted would follow.
“I hope this favor was worth it for your dad,” he wrote to Emin Agalarov. “It could blow up.”
Materials from Inquiry into Circumstances Surrounding Trump Tower Meeting (Senate Judiciary Committee)
Committee Democrats' "Preliminary Findings" (Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats)