Takeaways from Trump Jr.’s testimony on Russia probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — If there’s a single big takeaway from the nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts of interviews with Donald Trump Jr. and others by congressional investigators, it’s that Trump Jr. never thought twice about meeting with people tied to Russia promising dirt on his father’s political opponent.
Here’s what else we know:
THE MEETING WAS A BOMB
After publicist Rob Goldstone promised Trump Jr. “very interesting” information, including documents “that would incriminate Hillary,” Trump Jr. responded via email , “if it’s what you say I love it.”
But during that June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, Trump Jr. grew impatient and wound up “cutting off” the Russian lawyer, according to Goldstone’s testimony .
Goldstone said he even gave an awkward apology as the group left.
“I said to him, ‘Don, I really want to apologize,’” Goldstone said. “This was hugely embarrassing. I have no idea what this meeting was actually about.”
In a separate email , Goldstone later wrote: “I don’t even know for sure who these Russian people were.”
Trump Jr. says the Russian attorney offered information involving Democratic donors possibly avoiding taxes, but he wasn’t interested because none of the points raised were “campaign issues.”
TRUMP JR. DOESN’T RECALL
Trump Jr. repeatedly told the Senate panel that he doesn’t recall, including whether the Russian lawyer offered him documents at the Trump Tower meeting or whether he ever discussed the Russia probe with his father.
He also didn’t recall several emails and phone calls leading up to the meeting or even that a Russian American lobbyist attended.
Trump Jr. did testify that he never alerted his father ahead of the Trump Tower meeting, even with its promise of Clinton dirt. Why? “Because I wouldn’t bring him anything that’s unsubstantiated, especially from a guy like Rob, before I knew what it was actually about myself,” he told the panel.
But when asked to explain why his father then promised supporters at a campaign rally “very interesting” information on the Clintons in the days to come, Trump Jr. said: “I have no idea.”
THERE’S A BIG HOLE MISSING
The Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t interview two key participants in the Trump Tower meeting: President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
One key question is whether Manafort or Kushner might have alerted Trump, in the thick of the 2016 campaign, to the potential of receiving incriminating information on Clinton via Russia. Trump Jr. said he has no idea.
TRUMP JR SEEMED AWFULLY RELAXED
Anyone called to testify before a Senate panel risks legal jeopardy because it’s a crime to lie to Congress. But if that possibility fazed Trump Jr., it didn’t show in the transcripts.
When asked if he thought it would be a problem to take a meeting described to him as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father, Trump Jr. said no.
“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,” he said.
When asked to identify an unidentified phone number, Trump Jr. quipped: “That’s my real boss.”
“And who is your real boss?”
“My wife,” he said.
Trump Jr.’s wife, Vanessa, has since filed for divorce.