President Trump’s eldest son says he agreed to meet a Russian lawyer in 2016 because he was open to hearing about Hillary Clinton’s “fitness” to be president.
Donald Trump Jr met Natalia Veselnitskaya after being approached by music publicist Rob Goldstone, who said he had information that could be damaging to the Democratic presidential nominee.
Mr Trump Jr gave prepared remarks to a Senate judiciary committee investigating allegations that the Trump team may have colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of last year’s US election.
He insisted neither he nor anyone else he knew colluded with any foreign government during the campaign.
In his statement, Mr Trump Jr said he was sceptical of an approach by Mr Goldstone but said he thought he “should listen to what Rob and his colleagues had to say”.
He added: “To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out.”
At one point during his exchange of emails with Mr Goldstone, Mr Trump Jr had told him: “If it’s what you say I love it especially in the summer.”
Mr Trump Jr attempted to explain that comment on Thursday by saying it was “simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob’s gesture”.
It was his most detailed account yet over his meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in June 2016, which was also attended by the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his then campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Mr Trump Jr said she gave vague information about possible foreign donations to the Democratic party but then quickly changed the subject to a sanctions law, known as the Magnitsky Act, which the Russian government opposes.
He also said nothing came of the Trump Tower meeting.
After the five-hour hearing behind closed doors in Washington, Mr Trump Jr said he had “answered every question posed by the committee related to this topic, as well as all of their questions on other topics, until both sides had exhausted their lines of questioning”.
Meanwhile, FBI director Christopher Wray said he has not “detected any whiff of interference” into the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the election.
He said he has full confidence in former FBI boss Robert Mueller.
Mr Mueller and other congressional committees have been scrutinising Mr Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russian lawyer as part of probes into Moscow’s alleged interference.