Senate panel release documents from probe into Trump Tower meeting

The Senate Judiciary Committee released transcripts Wednesday, of interviews with the participants of a now-infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump campaign representatives and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and the Judiciary Committee released 2,000 pages of transcripts from interviews it conducted with Donald Trump Jr. and other participants of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and the Judiciary Committee released 2,000 pages of transcripts from interviews it conducted with Donald Trump Jr. and other participants of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US Senate committee released thousands of documents on Wednesday (May 16) from its probe into a meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr and Russians who had promised incriminating material on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr, in testimony released by the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee, says he did not tell his father ahead of time about the meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer five months ahead of the November presidential vote.

The June 9, 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya was also attended by then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It has fuelled speculation about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and is believed to be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the election.

Trump has repeatedly denied his campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected and has denounced Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt."

The Trump Tower meeting was arranged by a music promoter, Rob Goldstone, who reached out to Trump Jr saying he had "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

Trump Jr responded "I love it" when first offered the political "dirt" on Democratic presidential nominee Clinton.

But Trump Jr has said since that no "meaningful information" was offered and the meeting focused mostly on the issue of adoptions of Russian children.

Among the 2,000 documents released by the Judiciary Committee was the full transcript of the testimony by Trump Jr.

In a statement to US media on Wednesday, Trump Jr said he appreciated "the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry."

"The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the committee," he said.

Manafort, who has since been charged with a variety of non-campaign related offenses as a result of Mueller's investigation, was not interviewed by the committee.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was releasing the documents so "Americans can now review this unfiltered information and arrive at their own conclusions."

Democrats on the committee said the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting "confirms that the Trump campaign was willing to accept Russia's assistance."

"Their efforts to conceal the meeting and its true purpose are consistent with a larger pattern of false statements about the Trump campaign's relationship with Russia," they said in a statement.

"The Committee has found evidence of multiple contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials or their intermediaries, including offers of assistance and purported overtures from Vladimir Putin, which warrant further investigation," they added.