Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpHow Trump uses fundraising emails to remain undisputed leader of the GOP Donald Trump Jr. joins Cameo Book claims Trump family members were 'inappropriately' close with Secret Service agents MORE told lawmakers he does not know whether his father, President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE, had a role in drafting his initial, misleading statement about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, according to transcripts released Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, during the summer of 2016 after being offered dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE, the Democratic nominee for president. The meeting has been investigated by lawmakers and by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE.
The Washington Post reported last July that Trump was personally involved in drafting a statement that Trump Jr. issued on June 8. The president, while flying aboard Air Force One, reportedly dictated that the statement say that his son and Veselnitskaya had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
"I don't know. I never spoke to my father about it," Trump Jr. replied when asked about this during his September Senate interview about his father's reported involvement in the statement.
Staff on the committee also asked Trump Jr., “To the best of your knowledge, did the President provide any edits to the statement or other input?”
“He may have commented through Hope HicksHope HicksThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records UPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause MORE,” Trump Jr. replied, referring to the former White House communications aide.
Trump Jr. added that he believes some of his comments, given through Hicks, were incorporated into his statement — a process in which a handful of people were involved.
He also maintained that he did not talk to his father “because I didn’t want to bring him into some thing that he had nothing to do with."
Additionally, when asked why his statements were inconsistent, Trump Jr. pushed back, saying they were "all very consistent with each other."
"The initial statement was discussing exactly what the meeting was about. It ended up being about that," the president's eldest son said in part.
"It did not talk about what got them into the door and I didn't expand on it because I didn't think it was relevant to discuss what the meeting was not actually about even if that's what the email was. As more questions were asked and more information was requested we released more information and went into greater detail," he continued.
The White House and Trump Jr. have defended the meeting as appropriate, emphasizing that Veselnitskaya sought it out under false pretenses to press the case for repealing a U.S. sanctions law that had led the Kremlin to ban Americans from adopting from Russia. Trump Jr. has said the meeting was a waste of time.
Following the release of the records, Trump Jr. said the transcripts show he cooperated with the committee's investigation, which he did voluntarily.
"I appreciate 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 an was candid and forthright with the committee," Trump Jr. said.
The committee also interviewed Rob Goldstone, the music producer who set up the meeting with Veselnitskaya.
Jonathan Easley contributed. Updated at 10:21 a.m.