US Senate panel releases report on 2016 Trump Tower meeting

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Washington, May 16 (IANS) A Senate panel on Wednesday released documents about a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump campaign aides and a Russian delegation.

Among the documents released was a transcript of the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr, who attended the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower in New York, the US media reported.

The Committee, which is conducting one of several investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, interviewed Trump Jr and four other people who attended the meeting.

In his testimony, Trump Jr said he couldn’t remember whether or not his father was involved in drafting an initial statement in response to the meeting. “I don’t know. I never spoke to my father about it,” he said.

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However, the 2,500 pages of transcripts confirmed that Trump Jr and campaign aides wanted “dirt” on his father’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, CNN reported.

Rob Goldstone, who arranged the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, Georgian-American businessman Ike Kaveladze and a translator testified before the panel.

In the lead-up to the meeting, Goldstone had told Trump Jr that Veselnitskaya would provide dirt on Clinton from Russian sources.

“If it’s what you say I love it,” Trump Jr responded to Goldstone ahead of the meeting which was also attended by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign chief Paul Manafort.

But the participants said Veselnitskaya did not in fact provide dirt on Clinton, instead focusing on overturning the US sanctions on Russia under the Magnitsky Act that the US passed to punish Russian human rights abuses.

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Asked what Veselnitskaya was talking about regarding the damaging opposition research, Trump Jr said: “It generally started out as people with… perhaps general interest in Russia. I’m not sure if they were US or Russia based, but business people who were supporters of the Democratic National Committee and perhaps Hillary Clinton were in some sort of tax scheme to avoid paying taxes in both the US and Russia.”

Trump Jr said he couldn’t remember if Veselnitskaya provided any names related to her allegations. “I don’t recall, but she may have.”

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who declined to be interviewed by the committee, said in a 11-page statement that he had “hardly any” contacts with Russians during the campaign and that he “did not remember” the Trump Tower meeting.

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Following the documents’ release, Trump Jr said the transcripts showed he “answered every question asked”.

“The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the Committee.”

–IANS

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