WASHINGTON –refused to tell lawmakers the conversations he had with his father about a 19459005 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer after emails detailed that the meeting had been made public, according to the chief democrat of the House's intelligence committee.
Speaking to the closed-door committee on Wednesday as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Trump Jr. said he did not tell the president about the meeting between Trump's campaign officials and the Russians when it happened and he refused to give details about what he finally told him after the meeting was made public.
California Rep. Adam Schiff said Trump Jr. said he could not talk about conversations with his father this summer because of the attorney-client privilege, telling the committee that a lawyer was present when he spoke with his father about the June . 2016 meeting and the emails that led to it.
Schiff said that it was not a valid excuse not to speak, saying that "the presence of a lawyer does not mean that communications between father and son are privileged."
The Trump Tower meeting is a matter of great interest towho is also investigating the interference and if there was any obstruction of justice. Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, attended the meeting with several Russian agents with the impression that they could receive damaging information about the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Mueller is also interested in the White House's response to the meeting once it was made public. The White House has said that the president was involved in drafting an initial statement saying that the meeting was mainly about a Russian adoption program, but the emails published later by Trump Jr. showed that he accepted the meeting with enthusiasm. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others after dirt was promised to her father's rival. Trump Jr. then said that the promised material never materialized.
Trump Jr. said during the eight-hour interview on Wednesday that he spoke with Hope Hicks, President Trump's communications assistant, when the first reports of the meeting appeared, according to a person familiar with the interview. The New York Times was the first to report on the existence of the meeting last July, and Trump Jr. posted the emails detailing the planning several days later.
Hicks was with the president on Air Force One as they wrote the initial statement that said the meeting was mainly about the adoption program.
Trump Jr. also told the intelligence panel that he did not tell his father about the 2016 meeting at the time it happened, according to the person familiar with his interview. The person was not authorized to speak about the testimony and asked not to be identified.
Both the House and Senate intelligence committees have been interested in the Trump Tower meeting and have interviewed several participants. The Senate Judiciary Committee is also investigating the meeting and interviewed Trump Jr. behind closed doors in September.
In that interview, Trump Jr. chose the 2016 meeting as simply an opportunity to learn about "suitability, character or qualifications" of Clinton, and he urged investigators that he had not conspired with Russia to harm the Clinton campaign.
The Senate intelligence committee also hopes to interview Trump Jr. before the end of the year.
Kushner has spoken with both intelligence committees. The panels have also interviewed Ike Kaveladze, who was at the meeting as a representative of a Russian developer who once partnered with Trump to bring the Miss Universe contest to Moscow, anda Russian lobbyist- American. A translator who was present has also spoken with the investigators of the Congress.
Lawmakers were also expected to ask Trump Jr. about his communications with WikiLeaks during and after the campaign. Trump Jr. posted messages last month that showed him responding to the WikiLeaks Twitter account three times, and at one point agreed to "ask" about a political action committee that WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak, and tweeted a link that the account sent him.
Also on Wednesday, the House intelligence panel issued a transcript of an interview last week with Erik Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security company and a prominent Trump supporter.
According to the transcript, which was drafted in part, Prince told the panel that he met a Russian related to President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles Islands earlier this year, but he denies having represented Trump in the exchange.
Prince said that he and Kirill Dmitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund had a 30-minute conversation in a bar on January 11 and discussed the prices of oil and commodities and how Dmitriev wished the two's business relationship countries will improve. The meeting has captured the interest of researchers since an April report in The Washington Post that it was an attempt to establish a line of communication between Trump and Putin.
Prince denied that statement in the interview. He also suggested that intelligence officials in former President Obama's administration leaked details of the meeting.
Although the intelligence committee generally does not publish interview transcripts, the legislators agreed to do so in negotiations with Prince.