Donald Trump Jr has refused to provide a congressional committee with details of a July telephone conversation with his father about a meeting last year at which Trump campaign officials had expected to receive damaging information from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton.
Testifying in a closed session before the House Intelligence Committee, Trump Jr claimed that his conversation with his father, two days after The New York Times disclosed the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, was protected under attorney-client privilege because lawyers for both men were on the call.
What, if anything, Donald Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting as a presidential candidate - and his role in drafting a misleading statement about it once he was president and it became public - are key questions for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the election.
Donald Trump Jr had agreed to the meeting after receiving an email stating that a Russian government lawyer would provide incriminating facts about Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.” He has said that no damaging information was delivered.
Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said after Wednesday’s session that Donald Trump Jr acknowledged that he had discussed the Trump Tower meeting by telephone with his father on 10 July 2017. The congressman said that Trump’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, had asked the committee for more time to answer questions about that conversation because both he and a lawyer for the president were privy to it.
While he refused to recount his conversation with his father, the younger Trump told the committee about his earlier discussions with White House adviser Hope Hicks about how to respond to the coming Times article, first published 8 July. His statement said the Trump Tower meeting was primarily about the ability of Americans to adopt Russian children. It made no mention of any promise of incriminating information from the Russian government against Clinton.