“The Senate Judiciary Committee released 2,500 pages of congressional testimony on Wednesday. The trove of information provides a new window into that ill-fated June 2016 Trump Tower meeting before which Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging Russian government information about Hillary Clinton — from Natalia Veselnitskaya, who turned out to be a Kremlin-connected lawyer.” (Bottom line: They expected dirt on Hillary. They got less than they expected.) From WaPo: 7 big things we just learned from the Trump Tower meeting testimony.
+ AP: “If there’s a single big takeaway from the nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts of interviews with Donald Trump Jr. and others by congressional investigators, it’s that Trump Jr. never thought twice about meeting with people tied to Russia promising dirt on his father’s political opponent.”Here’s what else we know:
After publicist Rob Goldstone promised Trump Jr. “very interesting” information, including documents “that would incriminate Hillary,” Trump Jr. responded via email , “if it’s what you say I love it.”But during that June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, Trump Jr. grew impatient and wound up “cutting off” the Russian lawyer, according to Goldstone’s testimony .
Goldstone said he even gave an awkward apology as the group left.“I said to him, ‘Don, I really want to apologize,’” Goldstone said. “This was hugely embarrassing. I have no idea what this meeting was actually about.”In a separate email , Goldstone later wrote: “I don’t even know for sure who these Russian people were.”
Trump Jr. says the Russian attorney offered information involving Democratic donors possibly avoiding taxes, but he wasn’t interested because none of the points raised were “campaign issues.”Trump Jr. repeatedly told the Senate panel that he doesn’t recall, including whether the Russian lawyer offered him documents at the Trump Tower meeting or whether he ever discussed the Russia probe with his father.He also didn’t recall several emails and phone calls leading up to the meeting or even that a Russian American lobbyist attended.
Trump Jr. did testify that he never alerted his father ahead of the Trump Tower meeting, even with its promise of Clinton dirt. Why? “Because I wouldn’t bring him anything that’s unsubstantiated, especially from a guy like Rob, before I knew what it was actually about myself,” he told the panel.But when asked to explain why his father then promised supporters at a campaign rally “very interesting” information on the Clintons in the days to come, Trump Jr. said: “I have no idea.”
When asked if he thought it would be a problem to take a meeting described to him as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father, Trump Jr. said no.
“I didn’t think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no,” he said.When asked to identify an unidentified phone number, Trump Jr. quipped: “That’s my real boss.”
“And who is your real boss?”“My wife,” he said.
Trump Jr.’s wife, Vanessa, has since filed for divorce.
+ “The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that the intelligence community was correct in assessing that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump.” This is only news because the House GOP report failed to make this assessment.“We see no reason to dispute the [intelligence community’s] conclusions,” the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), said Wednesday in a joint statement with its vice chair, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who added: “Our staff concluded that the … conclusions were accurate and on point.The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.”
+ In a footnote in his latest personal financial disclosure, President Trump acknowledges repaying Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels payout.Cohen paid Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 through a shell company in the weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence regarding an alleged affair between her and Trump.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s outside counsel, has tried to frame any repayment from Trump to Cohen as a retainer for his legal services that would not have to be listed as a debt.Giuliani previously told BuzzFeed News that Trump told Cohen he would cover his expenses, following complaints from Cohen about not being repaid for the Daniels payment. Trump, Giuliani said, agreed to pay him $35,000 a month “out of his personal funds” over the course of a yearlong period that began in the first few months of 2017 and has since ended.“It clearly was a payment to reimburse expenses,” Giuliani said.
Rudy Giuliani Says Trump Repaid Michael Cohen For The Stormy Daniels Hush Money.
Besides the Cohen payment, Trump’s financial disclosures also showed that he earned $40.4 million in income from his Trump International Hotel, which is located blocks away from the White House in Washington’s Old Post Office building. Several GOP members of Congress, party committees, and outside groups have held fundraisers and other events at the hotel.That amount is more than double the $19.7 million reported in the president’s financial disclosures in 2017, which did not include income from a full calendar year since the hotel opened in September 2016.
Although last year’s report covered a slightly longer period — with some of 2017 also included — compared to this year’s report, Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s exclusive West Palm Beach resort, saw a significant decline in revenue this past year, bringing in $25.1 million. In the previous two years, Trump reported earning $37.2 million and $29.7 million in income from the club in his disclosures.
After his comments regarding the violence in Charlottesville last summer, several organizations that hosted events at Mar-a-Lago took their business elsewhere, but the club previously told reporters it didn’t have much of an effect because they were replaced by other events.Two other of his company’s golf clubs that the president frequents in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Sterling, Virginia, also saw declines in revenue by about $5 million each compared to the amounts reported in last year’s disclosure.