The release of the Trump Tower transcripts and hundreds of pages of related materials provides the most comprehensive view yet into the circumstances surrounding the controversial meeting and the details of the roughly 20-minute encounter, in which Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kusher and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were expecting dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The meeting — and whether President Donald Trump’s knew about it — has become a central focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as the congressional Russia investigations. Trump Jr. has told House investigators that he did not communicate with his father about the meeting before it happened. The White House has said the President weighed in on a misleading statement his son issued after the meeting became publicly known, more than a year later.
The committee on Wednesday released transcripts and hundreds of pages of related material from nine people connected to the meeting. The documents contain a record of closed-door committee interviews with five of the eight meeting attendees, including Trump Jr., British music promoter Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, translator Anatoli Samochornov and Ike Kaveladze, a Russian with ties to oligarch Aras Agalarov.
Following the documents’ release, Trump Jr. said the transcripts show he “answered every question asked.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry,” Trump Jr. said in a statement, “The public can now see that for over five hours I answered every question asked and was candid and forthright with the Committee. I once again thank Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein, as well as other members of the Committee and their staff for their courtesy and professionalism.”
In the lead-up to the meeting, Goldstone had told Trump Jr. that Veselnitskaya would provide dirt on Clinton from Russian sources. Trump Jr. responded to Goldstone, “if it’s what you say I love it,” ahead of the meeting, and Kushner and Manafort joined Trump’s son at the meeting. But the participants have 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.
The committee’s documents also included responses from Veselnitskaya, as well as a statement from Kushner and a page of notes from Manafort. The committee also included the formal release of the transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, who was not at the Trump Tower meeting but whose transcript was unilaterally released in January by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
In January, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said he planned to release the transcripts because the committee’s interviews connected to the Trump Tower meetings had wrapped up. Democrats had pressed Grassley to subpoena Kushner for his testimony or schedule a public hearing for Trump Jr., but he chose not to do so following Feinstein’s decision to release the Simpson transcript.