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5 crazy things we learned from Don Jr.’s Senate testimony

Private lawyers working for President Trump’s son and company attempted to coordinate public statements by participants in the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after the meeting was revealed and became a scandal.

That backroom effort to control the media narrative is just one of the fresh revelations contained in a massive 2,500 pile of documents released Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The reams of testimony, emails and text messages compiled by Senate investigators shed new light on one of the crucial moments at the center of ongoing probes into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to manipulate the 2016 election.

While the documents generally support the idea that no damaging information on the Clinton campaign was actually shared at the meeting, they also reveal, in great detail, how meeting participants later scrambled to get their story straight about what happened — and how to limit what the media could report.

Rob Goldstone, the hapless music industry publicist who helped arrange the meeting between Trump’s son Don Jr, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, told investigators he knew the meeting was a bad idea from the start.

Private lawyers working for President Trump’s son and company attempted to coordinate public statements by participants in the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after the meeting was revealed and became a scandal.

That backroom effort to control the media narrative is just one of the fresh revelations contained in a massive 2,500 pile of documents released Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The reams of testimony, emails and text messages compiled by Senate investigators shed new light on one of the crucial moments at the center of ongoing probes into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to manipulate the 2016 election.

While the documents generally support the idea that no damaging information on the Clinton campaign was actually shared at the meeting, they also reveal, in great detail, how meeting participants later scrambled to get their story straight about what happened — and how to limit what the media could report.

Rob Goldstone, the hapless music industry publicist who helped arrange the meeting between Trump’s son Don Jr, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, told investigators he knew the meeting was a bad idea from the start.

Goldstone had set up the meeting on behalf of his main client, Emin Agalarov, a musician and son of Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov. Goldstone had reached out to Don Jr. to say a Russian lawyer had damaging intelligence on Clinton.

But after the news broke about the meeting in the summer of 2017, Goldstone balked at making a statement drafted for him by Alan Futerfas, Don Jr.’s lawyer. Don Jr. had recently said the meeting was primarily about adoptions.

“I thought it was ludicrous,” Goldstone is quoted as saying. “It seemed like something I would never write. It didn’t sound like my voice. And it just sounded like an across-the-board endorsement of Mr. Trump Jr., as opposed to stating facts.”

In addition to that backdoor channel to control the media narrative, here are some other details revealed in Wednesday’s release.

Don Jr. admits he was willing to collude with Russia to take down Hillary Clinton

In one exchange with the Senate panel, Donald Trump Jr. admits that he took the meeting at Trump Tower with Kremlin-aligned Russians in order to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton. In previous email exchanges, Goldstone told Trump Jr. that the meeting was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Q. But what is it that specifically you were interested in getting out of that meeting?

A. I was interested in listening to information.

Q. Information on Hillary Clinton?

A. Yes.

Q. Information on Hillary Clinton that came potentially from the Russian government?

A. Again, I had no way of assessing where it came from, but I was willing to listen.

Emin really likes emojis

The Senate Judiciary committee released a variety of emails and text messages of the people involved in the Trump Tower meeting. After reporters began digging into the meeting in 2017, Goldstone and Emin had this emoji-stuffed exchange:

And another with Emin assuring Goldstone that all the press about the meeting could be good for his career.

Jared Kushner and Trump Jr. were pissed off when the Russians didn’t have Hillary dirt

“So can you show us how does this money go to Hillary?,” Trump Jr. asked the Russians gathered at Trump Tower and requested proof or paperwork, according the the testimony of Ike Kaveladze, who works for Aras Agalarov and attended the meeting as the billionaire’s representative.

Veselnitskaya testified that she told Trump Jr. that she did not have documentation. She began lobbying the Trump officials on Russian adoption and the Magnitsky Act. Trump Jr. and other campaign officials including Jared Kushner appeared “infuriated,” “very frustrated,” and “instantly lost interest,“ according to other participants in the meeting.

According to Kaveladze, Kushner became “very frustrated” and asked something like: “Why are we here and why are we listening to that Magnitsky Act story?”

Don Jr.’s mysterious 11 minute phone call to a blocked number

Trump Jr. has been trying to keep Trump Sr. out of the Trump Tower meeting fallout. He told the committee that he “never discussed [the meeting] with [his father] at all” and didn’t know if anyone else had.

But a mysterious phone call could undermine that story.

On June 6th 2016, Trump Jr. was busily organizing the details of the June 9th Trump Tower meeting and placed two calls to a blocked number. According to a timeline released by the Democrats on the Judiciary committee:

4:04 p.m. Emin Agalarov calls Trump Jr. Phone records reflect a 2- minute call.

4:27 p.m. Trump Jr.’s next call is to a blocked number. Phone records reflect a 4-minute call.

4:31 p.m. Trump Jr. calls Emin. Phone records reflect a 3- minute call. 4:38 PM Trump Jr. emails Goldstone, “Rob thanks for the help.”

8:40 p.m. Trump Jr. calls a blocked number. Phone records reflect an 11-minute call.

Trump Jr. told the Senate panel that he didn’t know who the 11-minute call was with (it doesn’t appear he was asked about the 4-minute call).

Q: “There’s a blocked call at 8:40 that day. Do you know who that call was with?

A. I don’t.

Asked if his father Donald Trump ever uses a blocked number, Trump Jr. replied: “I don’t know.”

Asked whether he knew if the call could have been with his father, Trump Jr. responded: “I don’t.”

Interestingly, Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that Donald Trump Sr.’s “primary residence has a blocked [phone] line.”

That phone call will surely come up again.

Cover image: Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump, stands in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)



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