Donald Trump Jr. met at closed doors for about seven hours on Wednesday with the House Intelligence Committee, presenting extensive questions about the contacts he had with the Russians during the 2016 campaign.
The members of the committee interrogated President Trump's eldest son about a He met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 after being informed that he would provide damaging information about the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He was also asked about his contact with WikiLeaks in October 2016, when the group published pirated Democratic emails, according to people familiar with the session.
Trump Jr. told the committee that he had not informed his father of his meeting with the Russian lawyer at the time it took place. He also said he had not told Trump that he exchanged private messages with WikiLeaks' Twitter account, according to people.
His long interview came when multiple investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election focused on Trump members.
Trump Jr. had met with investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, but that session took place before prosecutors working for special attorney Robert S. Mueller III filed criminal charges against former Trump advisers.
His Wednesday session with the House committee was longer and more expansive, and was the first time that elected legislators had to directly ask Trump Jr. questions, instead of leaving that to the research staff.
Trump Jr. told the committee that he did not speak directly with the president in July 2017 as the New York Times prepared to report his meeting with the Russian legislator for the first time. Instead, he told the committee that he had communicated only with Trump's communications director, Hope Hicks, to discuss how to respond to the Times' questions.
At the time, Hicks was aboard Air Force One with Trump, returning home from the Group of 20 Summit in Germany.
The Washington Post reported that the president issued the statement that Trump Jr. announced that day about the meeting. The statement omitted key facts about the session with the Russian lawyer, indicating that it was mainly about the adoption of Russian children by American families.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) Said on Wednesday that Trump Jr. told the committee that he spoke with his father about the Trump Tower meeting several days later, after emails showed he had accepted the meeting after of having offered "land" to Clinton. they were made public. However, Trump Jr. refused to detail the conversation to the committee, indicating that a lawyer had been present and he believed that he was subject to attorney-client privilege.
"In my opinion, there is no attorney-client privilege to protect an argument between father and son," Schiff said, adding that he intended to continue with Trump Jr.'s attorneys, who had "asked for more time to deliberate." about the claim. "
"This particular discussion revolves around a fundamental meeting," Schiff said, noting that it was "a central issue that we need to investigate thoroughly."
Trump Jr. also told the committee that he did not know that designated national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had discussed sanctions during telephone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. At that time, Trump Jr. served on the executive committee of the transition team.
Flynn last week pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Kislyak.
Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), Who leads the House investigation, told reporters after the session that Trump Jr. had answered all the committee's questions.
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., refused to comment.
While the 39-year-old man did not have an official role in his father's campaign, he was heavily involved in internal discussions and was a prominent substitute for him.
Trump Jr. also interacted at least twice with Russians who had shown interest in the Trump campaign: encounters that arouse great interest for researchers.
In addition to the June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer, Trump Jr. also exchanged greetings at a dinner during a convention of the National Rifle Association in May 2016 with a former Russian senator named Alexander Torshin, who is now the vice chief of the Russian central bank.
Trump Jr. told the committee that a friend had introduced him to Torshin, but said he could not remember which one.
Since the election, Trump Jr. has been helping to run the Trump Organization in the absence of his father. , while traveling through the country giving paid speeches.
He has reacted to the scrutiny of his Russian contacts with defiance, mocking online critics. "Keep coming against me guys!", He wrote on Instagram after his messages with WikiLeaks were made public, declaring that the handful of notes was "no hamburgers" advanced as part of a "false narrative".
Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.