WASHINGTON—Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee last September that he wasn’t sure how involved his father was in drafting a response to a meeting he had with an attorney tied to the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, according to transcripts released by the committee on Wednesday.
“There were numerous statements drafted with counsel and other people were involved and, you know, opined,” Trump Jr. said during closed-door testimony.
Last July, The New York Times reported that Trump Jr. took a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney with Kremlin ties, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In an initial statement, Trump Jr. said that the meeting was primarily based on “a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government.”
However, The Times later reported that Trump Jr. was promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton prior to taking the meeting, which was also attended by then-campaign officials Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner.
Trump Jr.’s response shifted with the new revelation, stating that it was a routine meeting aimed at gleaning opposition research.
The Washington Post reported later that month that President Donald Trump dictated the initial misleading statement on adoption, raising questions over whether or not the president was attempting to obscure the facts.
When pressed on the discrepancies and the role his father played, Trump Jr. initially said he doesn’t know if his father drafted it. He also said he couldn’t remember the phone call he took from a blocked number after that meeting or if the call was from his father.
“I never spoke to my father about it,” Trump Jr. said, before going on to say that the president may have offered input through then-White House communications director Hope Hicks.
Trump added that Hicks asked if he wanted to speak with his father about it, but he declined.
“I didn’t want to bring him into some thing that he had nothing to do with,” Trump Jr. said.
Trump Jr. said he did not know how many versions there were of the initial draft.
Shortly after the meeting came to light, Trump defended his son publicly, saying that he believes most people in politics would take a meeting to receive opposition research.
“Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information,” Trump said.
Last August, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders acknowledged that Trump weighed in on the statement, contradicting remarks made publicly by Jay Sekulow, the president’s private attorney.
“The President weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had,” Sanders said.