House Intelligence committee questions Donald Trump Jr. on Russian Federation contacts

Cheryl Sanders
December 7, 2017

Donald Trump Jr. admitted that he and his father had a discussion about last summer's secret meeting between key campaign officials and the Russians, but he refused to provide details of that conversation with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

He also told the committee he initially discussed a response with Hope Hicks, a top campaign aide now serving as White House communications director, according to a committee source.

Lawyers for both the president and his son were in on the call, but Schiff said: "The presence of counsel does not mean communications between father and son are privileged".

And whatever was said between father and son after emails concerning the meeting became public would certainly be relevant to understanding the role the president might have played in orchestrating the response to the damaging reports about Trump Jr.'s effort to obtain Clinton "dirt".

Donald Trump Jr. (R) watches his father Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump leave the stage on the night of the Iowa Caucus in Des Moines, Iowa U.S. February 1, 2016.

There was one significant area, though, where [Trump Jr.] declined to answer.

The Washington Post has reported that the president dictated the statement Trump Jr. released that day about the meeting.

The initial statement released by Team Trump about the meeting - which also included Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and ex-campaign chair Paul Manafort - said that the discussion centered on United States sanctions on Russia that it responded to by canceling USA adoptions of Russian children.

The conversation between Trump Jr. and his father took place in July of this year, around six months after Trump's inauguration, and soon after a July 8 report in The New York Times revealed that Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer at Trump Tower during the presidential primaries in June 2016. Veselnitskaya said these documents appeared to be Trump Jr.'s primary interest as the meeting essentially ended when she said she didn't have the information.

The sources added that Trump Jr. was questioned only by members, with limited exceptions, a majority of which were Democrats.

Mr. Trump engaged in several private message exchanges with WikiLeaks just before it released emails hacked from Mrs. Clinton's campaign Chairman John Podesta.

His Wednesday session with the House committee was longer and more expansive, and it was the first opportunity elected lawmakers have had to ask Trump Jr. questions directly, instead of leaving that to investigative staff. The statement, which was sent out through the Trump Organization under Mr. Trump Jr.'s name, claimed that the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption program.

But Schiff questioned whether that was a valid reason to not tell Congress about the conversations.

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