Donald Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege when speaking with members of Congress on Wednesday when pressed about a conversation he had with his father, President Donald Trump, regarding a meeting with a Russian lawyer he had in June 2016. In the meeting, Trump Jr. reportedly expected to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. spoke with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Wednesday and was asked about a conversation he had with his father following the revelation that he and several other high-ranking Trump campaign officials met with a Russian lawyer as the campaign kicked into high gear in the summer of last year.
The meeting between Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was set up by Rob Goldstone, a British publicist.
The meeting has become a focus of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and Trump Jr. eventually released a series of emails about the meeting that showed there was a possibility of receiving damaging information on Clinton.
The response to the meeting, and whether President Trump had a role in crafting what Trump Jr. said after news of the story broke, is being probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to the New York Times.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on the House committee, said he did not believe that lawyers being present for the phone call between Trump Jr. and his father made it subject to attorney-client privilege.
“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” Schiff said, according to Politico. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”
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Trump Jr. was also asked by the House committee about his Twitter direct message conversations with Wikileaks—where the group reportedly asked him to leak then-candidate Trump’s tax returns to them—the Times reports.
Trump said he considered the organization to be an independent media agency, not a group working in concert with Russia.