Donald Trump Jr testified to Senate investigators yesterday on his now-infamous 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, once again insisting he did not collude with a foreign power to help his father win the Presidency.
But some of those listening to the closed doors testimony have said the session did not fully address many of the concerns raised, with ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, saying it ‘raises more questions than it answers’.
Here are the main takeaways:
1) Trump Jr Confirmed His Initial Accounts Of The Meeting Were False
The President’s son cast the meeting simply as an opportunity to learn about Hillary Clinton’s “fitness, character or qualifications” and he “believed that I should at least hear them out”.
This is his fourth description of events. Back in July he first said it was a “short introductory meeting” focused on the disbanded program that had allowed American adoptions of Russian children.
A day later, Trump Jr changed his account, acknowledging that he was told beforehand that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, might have information “helpful” to the Trump campaign, and was told by her during the meeting that she had something about Clinton.
In his third description of what occurred he said he had believed the information he would hear about Clinton would be political opposition research.
Schiff said: “The fact that Trump Jr acknowledges taking the meeting along with two other top campaign officials ... during a time in which the nomination was to be contested at the convention, also highlights how significant the campaign viewed the promise of dirt on their opponent from the Russian government.”
2) Did The President Help Draft His First Response Or Not?
The White House has previously said the President was involved in drafting a statement saying the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption program.
Trump Jr said he didn’t know or didn’t recall the details of any White House involvement in his response to the first reports of that meeting.
But this leaves a crucial question unanswered - if the meeting was as innocuous as he is now making out, why did father and son lie about it initially?
Schiff said: “Today’s written statement by Donald Trump Jr. released to the media about the now infamous June 9, 2016 meeting held with Russian intermediaries, including Veselnitskaya, raises more questions than it answers, much like the statements he and President Trump drafted and released after the first revelations of the meeting.”
3) ‘I Love It’ Is A Colloquial Term When Being Polite, Apparently
Trump Jr tried to dismiss concerns about one comment he made in emails leading up to the meeting.
He said he was just being polite when he emailed “I love it” to Rob Goldstone, the publicist who was setting up the meeting with a Russian who was said to have election-season dirt on Clinton.
Trump Jr said it was “simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob’s gesture”.
4) If He’s Lying He’s In Big Trouble
Thursday’s interview at the Capitol was the first known instance of Trump Jr giving his version of the meeting in a setting that could expose him to legal jeopardy.
“As will become clear, I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did,” the statement of his testimony said, promising to “set forth the sum and substance” of what happened at that meeting.
It’s a crime to lie to Congress.
5) His Father’s Speech Made After The Meeting Was Just A Coincidence
When asked why, shortly after the Trump Tower meeting was set up, his father promised to deliver a “major speech” about Clinton’s “corrupt dealings,” Trump Jr said that that was merely the way his father speaks.
6) Trump Tower Apparently Doesn’t Always Keep A Record Of When Trump’s Family Members Visit
When the meeting came to light it was discovered that none of those in the group gave their names to security or anyone in the Trump Organisation.
Trump’s explanation for this was that ”[Goldstone] was able to bring the entire group up by only giving his name to the security guard in the lobby, I had no advance warning regarding who or how many people would be attending”.
He added: “There is no attendance log to refer back to and I did not take notes.”
7) He Admits Considering Meeting With A Lawyer After To Discuss What Might Be Said
Trump Jr said he had always intended to consult with his own lawyers about using any information that Veselnitskaya, who has links to the Kremlin, gave him at the meeting.
Schiff said: ”... that Trump Jr apparently knew he should consult a lawyer before or after the meeting is an admission that he knew what he was doing raised serious questions of legality and propriety.”
Trump Jr also revealed more calls between himself and Agalarov, who partnered with Trump to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.
But he insists he does not remember talking to him on any of these occasions, instead suggesting they left each other voicemails.
“I simply do not remember,” he said.
The attendees Trump Jr identified were himself, Goldstone, Manafort, Kushner, Veselnitskaya, a translator and Irakli Kaveladze, who worked for a Russian development company headed by Aras Agalarov and his son,
He did not mention Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who has told multiple news outlets, including the AP, that he attended the meeting at Veselnitskaya’s invitation. In recent weeks, Akhmetshin has testified about his recollection of the meeting before a Washington grand jury used by Mueller.