Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Trump Tower transcripts released

Trump Tower transcripts released

Jared Kushner's account of showing little interest in an infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton was contradicted by multiple witnesses who also attended the June 2016 meeting. He said he was skeptical about the value of such a meeting and "as it later turned out, my skepticism was justified".

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.

But lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya did not provide documentation or conclusive proof about the Ziff brothers, according to the new material, and Trump Jr. did not appear interested in doing the additional investigating required to substantiate the claim.

The Senate panel released thousands of pages of transcripts from interviews conducted as part of the congressional investigation of Russian Federation election interference, including an hours-long interview with the president's eldest son.

The documents reveal new details about how the meeting - central to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential collusion between Trump aides and the Kremlin - came to be arranged and efforts afterward to mitigate the public relations damage arising from its disclosure.

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The committee's documents also included responses from Veselnitskaya, as well as a statement from Kushner and a page of notes from Manafort.

"I was aware of none", said Trump Jr., in a seemingly definitive statement within his I-don't-remember-filled interview.

Phone logs show Agalarov called Trump Jr.at 4:04 p.m. on June 6, 2016, to discuss the Veselnitskaya meeting, and then the president's son had a four-minute call with someone who used a blocked number before calling back the Russian singer at 4:31 p.m. Among those attending was lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin. "I had no way of assessing where it came from, but I was willing to listen", he said.

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.

Later in his testimony, Trump Jr. repeatedly deemphasized his father's role in shaping how this information was conveyed to the press.

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Kushner, who Grassley previously said had been "spooked" out of testifying, and Manafort, who has since been indicted on money laundering and assorted other charges, didn't appear before the committee. But the panel released her written responses to a letter that Grassley sent her past year. "Their efforts to hide the meeting and its true objective are consistent with a larger pattern of false statements about the Trump campaign's relationship with Russian Federation".

Last July, when the New York Times published a report about the meeting, a statement was crafted aboard Air Force One as the president returned from Germany. "You just need to get the meeting.' And then I said, 'I think this this is a really bad idea, '" Goldstone added.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly honed in on both the meeting and the varied explanations the Trump team has offered about it as he investigates possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, as well as possible obstruction of that probe by the President.

The Judiciary Committee documents also reveal suggestions that a Russian social network, VK, might have offered to help with voter outreach on behalf of Trump to Russian-speaking Americans.

The Senate intel committee's conclusions are markedly different than those reached by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

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