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Trump Jr: Can't recall discussing Russia probe with father

AP  |  Washington 

Jr told the Senate last year he did not recall ever discussing the investigation with his father and said he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian at ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to transcripts released Wednesday of his interview with the panel.

The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump's son and others who attended a June 9, 2016, meeting at which they expected to receive dirt about Trump's opponent, Democrat

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

The transcripts show the dissatisfaction of and other campaign aides, including Jared Kushner, when the meeting failed to yield the harmful Clinton information they thought they'd get as well as the increasing panic of one of the meeting participants who feared his reputation would be ruined for his role in having set it up.

In addition, the transcripts reflect an aggressive Russian outreach to Trump both before and after the June 2016 meeting, including an effort to arrange a follow-up get-together that November with members of his transition team. One year earlier, Trump was invited to the 60th birthday party of a friend in at which the opportunity to meet Russian was dangled.

deflected multiple questions during the interview, saying "No, not that I recall" when asked if he discussed the probe with his father. He said he could not recall the day the Trump meeting was arranged but insisted that he had never discussed the meeting with him.

Asked if he thought it would be a problem to take a meeting described to him as part of a effort to aid his father, said no.

"I didn't think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a would be an issue, no." Senate Judiciary Democrats said the transcripts are just "one piece of a much larger puzzle" and do not tell the entire story because some participants were not interviewed and Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, did not subpoena them.

Though the witnesses were not under oath, they were nonetheless required to tell the truth.

In addition to Trump Jr., the committee interviewed four other people who attended the meeting in publicist Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting with the promise of dirt on Clinton; Rinat Akhmetshin, a prominent Russian-American lobbyist; Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer, and a

The committee did not interview Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian at the center of the meeting. But the panel released her written responses to a letter that Grassley sent her last year.

The panel was also not able to interview Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, or Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, though both attended.

The committee did release one page of notes that Manafort took during the meeting.

His notes mention "Russian adoption by American families" and Bill Browder, a British citizen who has spearheaded a U.S. known as the Magnitsky Act that targets Russian officials over human rights abuses. The relatively cryptic notes also contain a reference to "active sponsors of RNC," appear to make reference to offshore companies in and have a single line that says "tied into Cheney." Mueller has brought several unrelated charges against Manafort, including money-laundering conspiracy, false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to Ukrainian political work.

The is investigating the Russian meddling in the election, whether Trump's campaign was involved and possible obstruction of justice. The meeting, and the administration's initial response to reports of it, have been a focus of the probe.

The has said the was involved in drafting an initial statement after of the meeting broke last year.

The statement said the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption program, though Trump Jr. later released the emails showing he agreed to the sit-down after he was promised information on Clinton. The emails also show he accepted the meeting despite it being described as part of a effort to aid his father's campaign.

Asked in the interview if his father was involved in drafting the statement, Trump said: "I don't know. I never spoke to my father about it." The transcripts provide a timeline of the days leading up to the meeting as well as misgivings about the appropriateness of a Russian meeting with a U.S. presidential campaign.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 20:45 IST