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Trump Jr questioned in US Congress about Russia

  • Published at 06:22 pm December 7th, 2017
Trump Jr questioned in US Congress about Russia

US President Donald Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, declined to discuss with lawmakers on Wednesday a conversation he had with his father about emails related to a June 2016 meeting he attended with Trump associates and Russians, a congressional panel member said.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee investigating allegations of Russian interference in last year's US election, said Trump Jr answered the "overwhelming majority" of questions from committee members in his hours of testimony.

But Trump Jr claimed attorney-client privilege in declining to respond to queries about that discussion with his father because a lawyer was in the room when it took place. The discussion between then-Republican candidate Trump and his son took place after the emails became public, Schiff said. Trump Jr released the emails in July.

"In my view there is no attorney-client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son," Schiff told reporters after the closed-door testimony had ended.

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

Representative Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation, said Trump Jr had answered all of his questions.

"Mr Trump was cooperative at all times," Conaway said.

Lawmakers said they want to question him about a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York at which he had said he hoped to get information about the "fitness, character and qualifications" of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who was his father's presidential election opponent.

It was at least the second time Trump Jr has testified to a congressional committee investigating any Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with Moscow by the Trump campaign.

A person familiar with knowledge of Trump Jr's testimony said Trump had said repeatedly he did not remember things he was asked about, including some details about information provided by Russians during the Trump Tower meeting.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating. 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.

The House intelligence panel also released on Wednesday a transcript of testimony last week of Erik Prince, a Trump supporter and founder of the Blackwater military contractor. A focus of that testimony was a report that Prince tried to set up a "back channel" for communications between Trump associates and Russia. Prince denied such a plan.