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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Trump Jr. talks about his controversial meeting with Russians

Por Kvothe

President Donald Trump's son maintained a carefree stance during an intense interrogation by a Senate committee, in which he sidestepped several of the questions and said he did not think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower with the hope of obtaining material that would hurt Hillary Clinton during the electoral process, according to transcripts released on Wednesday.

When asked if he was concerned that the meeting in June 2016 was part of an attempt by the Russian government to help his father in the presidential race, Donald Trump Jr. said he had not thought much about it. "I do not think it alarmed me, but as I said before, I do not know and I do not think that at that moment I would give much importance", Trump Jr. told the Senate Judicial Affairs Committee during a private meeting last year.

The panel disseminated more than 1,800 pages of the transcripts of the interviews with Trump Jr. and others of the people who attended the meeting in New York, in which they hoped to receive compromising information from the Democratic presidential candidate. The commission also released 700 pages of documents, including several emails, telephone records and court statements.

The meeting at the Trump Tower is one of the crucial points of interest for the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller on a possible collusion between the Kremlin and Trump's relatives.

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Commission said on Wednesday it supports the US intelligence agency's assessment in 2017 that Russia intervened in the election to harm Clinton and help Trump. That conclusion differs from a report released by the Intelligence Commission of the House of Representatives last month.

Both panels have generated reports on their own investigations regarding Russia. But the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, announced in January that he wanted to publicize the transcripts of his interrogation because people "deserve to have all the facts, and not just one side of the story."

According to the transcripts, Trump Jr. answered dozens of questions - including some about emails and phone calls prior to the meeting - saying he did not remember or "had no idea". He said he did not alert his father about the meeting and that he has never spoken to him about the FBI investigation into possible interference by Russia in the elections.

The transcripts brought to light some new details about how the meeting was arranged and subsequent efforts to mitigate the political damages that led to its disclosure.

They also demonstrate the discontent of Trump Jr. and other campaign members, including his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, after they did not get the prejudicial information against Clinton they expected. The increasing concern of one of the participants of the meeting who feared that his reputation was ruined by helping to organize the meeting was also announced.

Trump Jr. had high hopes. After music publicist Rob Goldstone promised him "very interesting" information, including documents that would "incriminate Hillary," the son of the president responded in an email, "if what you say is true, I love it". The transcripts also reflect the Russian insistence on approaching Trump, before and after the meeting in New York, including efforts to finalize a new meeting in November with a member of the transition team. That meeting was never held.