Trump Jr. calls charge of collusion ‘ridiculous’


WASHINGTON (AP) Developments on Tuesday, July 11, about the ongoing investigations into possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia (all times Eastern Daylight Time).

  • 10:30 p.m.

Donald Trump Jr. said his meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer was the extent of his formal contact with Russia officials and associates.

Trump Jr. said in an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel that “he has probably met with other people from Russia” but insisted that he did not attempt to coordinate to impact the election or try to damage Hillary Clinton.

He repeatedly suggested the charges of collusion were “ridiculous” and “overplayed” and insisted his father knew nothing about the June 2016 meeting.

“It was such a nothing there was nothing to tell” his father, said Trump Jr.

The younger Trump was interviewed by Hannity hours after he released an email chain in which he said he would “love” to receive damaging information about Clinton from the Kremlin-connected lawyer.

  • 9:30 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee requested information from the Departments of State and Homeland Security about a Russian lawyer who met with President Trump’s eldest son.

Trump Jr. acknowledged the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and posted a 2016 email exchange to Twitter that showed he was involved in setting up the meeting.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote the departments to ask how Veselnitskaya was allowed to enter the United States. Grassley said that according to court documents, she was denied a visa to stay past January 2016, six months before the New York meeting.

The letter is part of a larger investigation Grassley has led into the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Grassley has expressed concerns that the law is not enforced.

  • 8:50 p.m.

President Trump sent out an encouraging message on Twitter to his son.

“My son, Donald, will be interviewed by @seanhannity tonight at 10:00 P.M. He is a great person who loves our country!”

Emails show that Trump Jr. had been told by music promoter Rob Goldstone that a Russian government attorney wanted to share compromising information on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

  • 7:40 p.m.

Trump Jr. said his meeting with the Russian lawyer “went nowhere,” but added in his Fox News Channel interview with Hannity: “In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently.”

He said he never told his father about the meeting because “it was just a nothing. There was nothing to tell.”

Trump Jr. told Hannity he thought before the meeting that any negative information about Clinton could prove useful.

“Someone sent me an email. I can’t help what someone sends me,” Trump said, “I read it, I responded accordingly.”

He said no useful information was shared and the meeting ended up being a waste of time.

The channel released excerpts from the interview before its 10:00 p.m. air time.

  • 5:40 p.m.

The top Democrat on a House oversight committee requested President Trump’s eldest son, his son-in-law, and his former campaign chairman turn over a wide array of documents regarding their meeting with the Russian lawyer.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., wrote a letter expressing his concern that the decision to take the June 9, 2016, meeting raised questions about their “respect for the very principles that our democracy has been founded upon.” Cummings addressed the letter to Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort.

  • 3:55 p.m.

Veselnitskaya insisted she did not have any compromising information on Clinton to offer the Trump campaign — in contrast to what the email exchange released by Trump’s eldest son suggests.

Responding to reporters asking if she had Clinton information to share, Veselnitskaya said it was “not true” and Trump Jr. “was told so.”

“I never had compromising information and could not have had,” she said, adding that she did “not represent anyone other than myself.”

The lawyer insisted she was “offered to meet with Trump Jr.” in a “private setting not connected to the fact that he is the son of the presidential candidate.”

The lawyer also claimed she was not even sure that Donald Trump had already won the Republican nomination by then.

  • 2:30 p.m.

The president said he his eldest son was “a high-quality person,” and he applauded “his transparency.”

Presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a brief statement from the president.

Trump Jr. posted his emails with publicist Rob Goldstone on Twitter which show Trump Jr. was told the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

  • 2:00 p.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Trump Jr.’s emails show a congressional investigation into Russian election meddling is “all that more important.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., dismissed that Trump Jr.’s eager acceptance of help could just be naiveté: “Lying is not a rookie mistake.”

Warner also noted that Trump said in the exchange the information could be good “especially later in the summer,” and that Clinton’s hacked emails were released around that time.

  • 1:10 p.m.

Republican senators downplayed the Trump Jr. revelations.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called the matter “overblown,” describing Trump Jr. as “a very nice young man.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., appeared at a news conference with seven other Republican senators, insisting their party should not be “distracted” by the latest reports on Russia and instead stay focused on their agenda.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said several congressional committees were already looking at the matter.

  • 1:05 p.m.

Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager said the U.S. faced a “serious national security crisis.”

“They called us liars; They called us disgusting for suggesting Russians were behind this. Then they met the Russians and talked about information about Hillary Clinton,” Robby Mook told The Associated Press.

  • 1:00 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence’s office said the vice president was not aware of the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya.

Pence’s spokesman Marc Lotter said in a statement the vice president wasn’t focused “on stories about the campaign, especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign.”

Pence was named the Republican presidential running mate in mid-July 2016, several weeks after the June meeting involving the president’s son.

Pence’s office said the vice president was “working every day to advance the president’s agenda.”

  • 12:45 p.m.

A senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Trump Jr.’s emails show his father’s presidential campaign “sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America’s democracy.”

“The question is how far the coordination goes,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. said. He called for lawmakers to “stand up and do their duty: protect and defend the Constitution.”

The New York Times reports it was about to publish the content of the emails and had sought comment from Trump Jr. when he released the emails on Twitter.

  • 12:05 p.m.

The music publicist who promised Trump Jr. damaging information on Clinton from the Russian government also offered to send it directly to his father’s personal assistant.

In an email, Rob Goldstone wrote he was sending the “ultra sensitive” information to Trump Jr. first. But he noted “I can also send this info to your father via Rhona,” an apparent reference to the elder Trump’s longtime assistant Rhona Graff.

The Trump Organization has confirmed the authenticity of the emails, which Trump Jr. posted on Twitter.

  • 11:55 a.m.

Goldstone also said a Russian singer and his father, a former Trump business associate, were helping a Russian government effort to aid Trump’s campaign.

In an email posted by Trump Jr. on Twitter show Goldstone telling Trump that singer Emin Agalarov and his father, Moscow-based developer Aras Agalarov, had “helped along” the Russian government’s support for Trump.

The elder Agalarov was involved with Trump in hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The two men also had preliminary discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow that fell through. Trump also appeared in a music video with the younger Agalarov.

  • 11:15 a.m.

“If it’s what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. told Goldstone about the possibility of getting information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

Trump Jr. said in a statement that he released the exchanges “in order to be totally transparent.”

  • 8:30 a.m.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee said Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya during the 2016 presidential campaign is “a very big deal.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told CNN that his committee, which is investigating possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, would summon the meeting participants “to get to the bottom of it.”

The New York Times reported late Monday that Trump Jr. was told ahead of time that the source of potentially damaging information about Democratic presidential candiate Clinton was the Russian government. Schiff said the report, if true, represents “an offer by the Russian government to help interfere in the American election on behalf of one of the candidates” and the first time “the inner circle of the Trump family — have direct contact with the Russians promising” information on Clinton.

In a statement, Trump Jr.’s New York-based attorney Alan Futerfas called the Times report “much ado about nothing.”

  • 7:30 a.m.

Veselnitskaya told NBC’s Today show and MSNBC she was summoned to Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign to meet with Donald Trump Jr. and asked if she had information on the Clinton campaign. She said she got a phone call from a man she didn’t know and was told to meet with the Trump campaign. She said she didn’t have information on the Clinton campaign and has never worked for the Russian government.

Veselnitskaya said Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, attended the meeting but left after a few minutes. Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, also attended but never participated and spent much of the meeting on his phone. It wasn’t clear from the NBC report who in the meeting asked her for information.

On damaging information on Clinton, she said through a translator: “They wanted it so badly.”