WASHINGTON - Donald Trump Jr. refused to answer questions from lawmakers Wednesday about conversations he had with his father, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, about his controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives in June 2016.
Trump Jr. avoided reporters and entered the Capitol through a back door before facing more than eight hours of questions from the House Intelligence Committee.
The committee is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Attorney-client privilege cited
The committee’s top Democrat, California’s Adam Schiff, said the younger Trump answered most of their questions, but claimed attorney-client privilege when declining to comment about the meeting he had with the Russians.
Trump Jr. said there was a lawyer present when he talked to his father.
Schiff said he does not believe the Trumps’ conversation is privileged information.
Others at Wednesday’s questioning said Trump Jr. claimed he did not remember things the lawmakers wanted to know, including details about the meeting with the Russians.
Trump Jr. met with the Russians at his father’s office tower in June 2016, when a Russian lawyer promised dirt on Donald Trump’s rival for the White House, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. said he did not tell his father about the meeting when it happened, but did talk about it after emails about the gathering became public.
The emails showed the younger Trump jumped at the chance to get something incriminating on Clinton, including her “fitness character and qualifications” to be president. Such dirt never materialized.
This was the second time Trump Jr. faced grilling from lawmakers about the Russian meeting. The Senate Judiciary Committee questioned him in September.
Mueller likely interested
Special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to have a keen interest in the Capitol Hill questioning and the Russian meeting.
Mueller is investigating whether where was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, which Trump won, and whether Trump himself obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, who was also investigating alleged collusion.
Trump has labeled the allegations with one of his favorite phrases — “fake news.” Trump Jr. also denies the charges.
Moscow has called Mueller’s investigation “a bag of smoke.”