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Trump Jr. says he met with Russian lawyer to assess Clinton's 'fitness' for office
The president's son also said he had meant to consult with his attorneys before using any information obtained from Ms. Veselnitskaya.
By Cliff Mooneyham
Jan 12, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Donald Trump Jr. met with staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday and, in prepared remarks, denied he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump Jr. said he arranged a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, because he wanted to gauge her "fitness" to be president, according to a report by The New York Times.

The president's son also said he had meant to consult with his attorneys before using any information obtained from Ms. Veselnitskaya.

"To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out," Trump Jr. said. "Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration."

When news of the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer first broke, Trump Jr. initially characterized it as being focused on the issue of Russian adoptions. Then, after emails between Trump Jr. and music promoter Rob Goldstone, who proposed the meeting, were revealed, Trump Jr. had to admit that he attended the meeting because he was told the Russians had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters that investigators were asking mainly factual questions and that the mood in the room was "cordial." He also said the Trump Jr. interview made him more sure that certain other people who attended the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 specifically the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager, Paul J. Manafort should also appear before the panel.

"We covered a good deal of ground," Blumenthal said, in the Times report. "There is still a lot of questioning to be covered."