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Hannon writes: "To be clear, neither Trump is a lawyer. Trump Jr., however, asserted attorney-client privilege for the father-son conversation based on the fact, he says, there was a lawyer in the room at the time."

Donald Trump Jr. (photo: Saul Loeb/Getty)
Donald Trump Jr. (photo: Saul Loeb/Getty)

Trump Jr. Refused to Discuss Talks He Had With Father, Russia Investigator Says

By Elliot Hannon, Slate

07 December 17


he House Intelligence Committee grilled Donald Trump Jr. for some seven hours Wednesday about his Russia contacts during the 2016 campaign. During the classified hearing, President Trump’s eldest son was asked about his now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer where Trump Jr. was expecting dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. Trump Jr. was also asked about his interactions with the president following the meeting and, specifically, in crafting his response in July to the imminent New York Times story that was set to expose the suspect meeting. When asked about these discussions, however, Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege and refused to respond.

To be clear, neither Trump is a lawyer. Trump Jr., however, asserted attorney-client privilege for the father-son conversation based on the fact, he says, there was a lawyer in the room at the time, according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). “I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” Schiff said after the hearing. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”

The Trump Tower meeting itself is clearly important in the overall investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, but the aftermath of the meeting that the 38-year-old refused to discuss could also be a game-changer. If Trump Jr., for instance, told his father about the meeting if would mean that candidate-Trump himself was aware as far back as June 2016 of Russian efforts to damage Hillary Clinton and his campaign’s effort to solicit information that might do the same. “Trump Jr. said he didn’t tell the president about the meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians when it happened,” according to the Associated Press.

But Trump Jr. did communicate about the meeting with President Trump at some point, at the very latest, after Times article dropped. The nature of these discussions that Trump Jr. refused to discuss is particularly important because of President Trump’s reported input on drafting his son’s statement in response to the story. Trump Jr. told the House committee that he exchanged text messages with now-White House communications director Hope Hicks about the meeting and how to respond. Hicks and President Trump were aboard Air Force One at the time returning from the G-20 summit in Germany and the Washington Post reported two weeks after the fact that President Trump was directly involved in crafting Trump Jr.’s initial, false statement.

Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.” The claims were later shown to be misleading…

Air Force One took off from Germany shortly after 6 p.m. — about noon in Washington. In a forward cabin, Trump was busy working on his son’s statement, according to people with knowledge of events. The president dictated the statement to Hicks, who served as a go-between with Trump Jr., who was not on the plane, sharing edits between the two men, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. In the early afternoon, Eastern time, Trump Jr.’s team put out the statement to the Times.

The circumstances around the statement and the intimate involvement of President Trump are legally perilous. While lying to the press is not against the law, if the president can be shown to have knowingly crafted a false statement it would speak to his intent in lying about the meeting which would help Mueller’s team lay the groundwork for an obstruction charge. your social media marketing partner


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-11 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-07 10:04
Well, Trump Jr. has learned half the lesson of investigations like this. The whole lesson is NEVER talk to these investigators at all. Take the 5th amendment or just refuse. Everything you say will be used against you and spun into insanity by the press.

I'm sure Trump Jr. was warned that this was a classified interrogation and that if he talked about what was said he would face criminal charges. But Adam Schiff has no qualms talking about it. No one should have to endure a double standard like that. If Schiff talks, Trump Jr. should talk. In fact, he should have insisted that the interrogation take place on live Cspan TV.

The irony of this is getting overwhelming. The "dirt" promised by the "Russians" was in fact Hillary's own emails. If your own emails are peddled as dirt, you don't have much chance in an election.

There's no mention of Fusion GPS here. It is now known that Fusion GPS set up this meeting and managed it. Fusion GPS employees were in the room. I wonder if that came up in the interrogation? Probably so.

The really deep issue is who was paying Fusion GPS. We know the Clinton campaign and DNC were paying (via a law firm). The FBI stepped in and paid later on. But there are others. Then Fusion GPS paid journalists to write stories on Trump-Russia collusion -- after having set up the collusion.

Trump Jr. needs now to talk to the American people and tell all he knows. Probably he won't, however.
+2 # sbessho 2017-12-07 19:00
Apparently, in Rodion's world, the Trumps are the smart ones. If that's not an alternate reality, I don't know what is.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-07 21:14
sbe -- to the contrary. I think the Trumps are incredibly stupid and ignorant. Daddy Trump is the worst of the crew. The problem with the meeting Trump Jr had with the Russian lawyer and others is that Fusion GPS's fingerprints are all over it. It was a sting operation or a dirty campaign trick.

I read that the committee will subpoena trump Jr. back to the committee and try to force him to talk about the discussion he had with his dad. If he is smart -- and I say he is not -- he will resist this. They are looking for a perjury trap. Saying anything could get him trapped. But he is stupid, so he probably will get trapped. But lying to congress is not a big deal. Lots of people do it. Lying to the FBI is something else. If they want to, they will put you in jail. Ask Martha Stewart.
0 # sbessho 2017-12-08 19:38
"It was a sting operation or a dirty campaign trick."

Or a dangle by Russian operatives. It could be that the meeting was an attempt to find out whether and to what extent the Trump campaign was interested in cooperation on the election hacks.
+12 # Working Class 2017-12-07 12:16
Never talk to investigators? Wow. Heaven forbid the American people might have the right to learn whether our government has been corrupted. There is absolutely no question that Jr. went to that meeting with the expectation of collaboration with the Russians. His own e-mails clearly show this. Also, the sheer volume of meetings with Russians during the campaign, all of which were lied about by Trump's people until they got caught in their lies, shows a pattern of collaboration if not outright collusion. The lies themselves demonstrate what any competent prosecutor would call a "consciousness of guilt".
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-07 18:29
woking - "Heaven forbid the American people might have the right to learn whether our government has been corrupted."

Not sure what you mean by this. Trump Jr. is not in government. The congressional committee is government. No doubt they are corrupt and we'd all like to know what they are up to. Why a secret meeting? Trump Jr's dad is in government and we'd like to know what he's doing. You are right -- government is corrupt and we need more openness.

I agree that Trump Jr went to the meeting expecting to get "dirt" on Hillary. It is just funny that her own emails were being peddled as "dirt." Turns out, he got nothing. The meeting was a set up to trap him into talking with a Russian.
+1 # lfeuille 2017-12-07 20:11
Trump Jr. was part of the campaign whether or not he is currently in government and if he was involved on trying to arrange a corrupt relationship with a foreign government for his father he is certainly fair game. It is more likely that it was Kushner with the Israeli's than Jr. with the Russian's, but the principal is the same.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-08 12:11
Ife -- I just don't see anything illegal in what you describe. Opposition research is pretty sketchy and awful but it is legal and commonplace.

There's no evidence of a corrupt relationship with a foreign government. It was Rob Goldstein who made that offer and he has no authority to make offers on behalf of the Russian government. In fact, he was put up to it by FusionGPS.

I do not want to appear to defend Trump Jr, and I am not. I'm simply stating that he was a victim of fraud and if we swallow Adam Schiff's narrative we are also victims of fraud. The truth needs to come out, but the congressional committee is not seeking it.
0 # sbessho 2017-12-08 19:44
"The truth needs to come out, but the congressional committee is not seeking it."

Wow: agreement. The congressional committees are too vulnerable to the extreme partisanship of our current political climate. That is why it is important to keep Mueller's investigation going. Just to remind everyone, Mueller and Comey are life-long Republicans and have no special interest in promoting Democratic candidates or in taking down Republicans in a general sense. Trump is different. Anyone with a moral conscience wants to get Trump out of office.
0 # chapdrum 2017-12-08 13:09
"Attorney-clien t privilege."
And he got away with it.

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