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Senate Judiciary releases transcripts from Trump Tower meeting interviews

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning released the transcripts from a slate of interviews with participants of the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016. 

Among the transcripts is the panel's interview of President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Trump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE, who accepted the meeting with a woman described as a Russian government lawyer offering political dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page files defamation lawsuit against DNC Dems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE

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The meeting has become a flashpoint in the roiling speculation surrounding Trump and Moscow.

The White House and Trump Jr. staunchly defended the June 2016 meeting as appropriate but offered evolving explanations of its purpose. Trump Jr. later said the meeting revolved around a lobbying push by the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to urge the repeal of a U.S. sanctions law that had led Russia to ban Americans from adopting from the country. 

"I appreciate the opportunity to have assisted the Judiciary committee in its inquiry," Trump Jr. said in a statement released Wednesday that thanked panel Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October American Bar Association dropping Kavanaugh review Clinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking Democrat Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinAmerican Bar Association dropping Kavanaugh review Juan Williams: Trump, the Great Destroyer Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo MORE (Calif.).

"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."

The committee also interviewed Rob Goldstone, a music producer who set up the meeting; a translator for Veselnitskaya; and a Russian-American lobbyist who was lobbying on behalf of Veselnitskaya’s organization to overturn the Magnitsky sanctions. Ike Kaveladze, a U.S.-based employee of a Russian businessman whose son Goldstone represents, was also interviewed.

Read the transcripts here. 

Here’s a quick recap of who these players are and why they were there:

Donald Trump Jr.: Agreed to meet with a woman characterized as a Russian government lawyer offering political dirt on Clinton. “If it’s what you say, I love it!”

Rob Goldstone: A music promoter who represented the son of the developer who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013, Aras Agalarov. (Emin Agalarov, the son, is a Russian pop singer.) Goldstone set up the meeting with the Russian lawyer.

Anatoli Samochornov: A former State employee who acted as translator for the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Participants have said the meeting quickly turned into Veselnitskaya lobbying for the repeal of a U.S. sanctions law called the Magnitsky Act.

Rinat Akhmetshin: A Russian-American lobbyist and reportedly a former Soviet military counterintelligence officer who was lobbying on behalf of Veselnitskaya’s organization to overturn the Magnitsky sanctions.

Ike Kaveladze: A U.S.-based employee of Aras and Emin Agalarov. He attended the meeting as their representative. Kaveladze’s lawyer has said Kaveladze believed he would act as a translator but discovered when he arrived that Veselnitskaya had brought Samochornov.

Known to be present but not interviewed by the committee: White House senior advisor Jared Kusher and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortVirginia judge calls Manafort’s plea deal ‘highly unusual,’ but is it? Three reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction Judge calls Manafort plea deal 'highly unusual' MORE. Veselnitskaya provided written answers to committee Qs. Manafort provided his notes from the June meeting. Kushner gave a prepared statement.