Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Trump Jr. says he talked to Hope Hicks about meeting

US President Donald Trump at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC US President Donald Trump at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC
Melinda Barton | 07 December, 2017, 14:05

Donald Trump Jr. met behind closed doors for roughly seven hours Wednesday with the House Intelligence committee, fielding extensive questions about contacts he had with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Trump Jr. claimed client-attorney privilege to justify his refusal to divulge what he and his father talked about, and top Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff, was having none of it.

While Trump Jr. said he did not communicate directly with his father, Hicks was in regular contact with the president through the campaign as well as after the election. "There is no attorney client privilege that protects discussion between father and son", Schiff noted. Trump Jr. released the emails in July.

But Schiff questioned whether that was a valid reason to not tell Congress about the conversations.

"We will be following up with his counsel", Schiff said.

There was one significant area, though, where [Trump Jr.] declined to answer. A Republican source added Trump Jr. was asked about some Trump Organization business going back decades and at times based on old news reports about his father.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., left, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., leave a House Intelligence Committee meeting as it breaks for a House floor vote from interviewing Donald Trump Jr., on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington.

His June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at the height of the presidential campaign has made him a key figure in investigations into the Trump campaign's possible ties to the Kremlin.

And whatever was said between father and son after emails concerning the meeting became public would certainly be relevant to understanding the role the president might have played in orchestrating the response to the damaging reports about Trump Jr.'s effort to obtain Clinton "dirt".

At one point, hours into the meeting, multiple sources with knowledge tell ABC News that Trump Jr.'s lawyers asked how many more questions the committee had. He has announced the first charges of Trump associates, and Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Trump Jr.'s appearance coincided with criticism of the Russian Federation probes from some of his father's fellow Republicans, who control both houses of Congress and accuse investigators of bias against Trump. Democrats reject Trump's privilege claim.

Trump Jr., like his father, denies collusion with Russian Federation.

Some Republicans criticized Mueller, the FBI and the Department of Justice at a news conference on Wednesday, ahead of congressional testimony on Thursday by the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray. It was then that Trump Jr., per the sources, said Clinton's testimony was not the same: she was testifying about the 2012 attack in Benghazi where four Americans were killed.

Also on Wednesday, Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced a hearing next week with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, citing "serious concerns" about reports on the political motives of staff on Mueller's team.