On Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. testified to congressional investigators about why he took a meeting with Russian officials during the campaign that some legal experts have said meet the legal definition of collusion with Russia to help his father win the presidency. Trump Jr.’s sit-down with staffers and some senators of the Senate Judiciary Committee was behind closed doors, but The Washington Post has obtained Trump Jr.’s opening statement (which was first obtained by the New York Times). In it, Trump Jr. explains why he thinks the meeting was innocent, useless and, in his words, demonstrates no collusion with any foreign government, by himself or the people he worked with to help get his father elected.
The Fix has annotated Trump Jr.’s opening statement. Click on the highlighted text to read the annotations, and sign up on Genius.com to add your own.
I welcome the opportunity to share this prepared statement in an effort to set forth the sum and substance of what I know regarding a meeting I attended on June 9, 2016. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet with you today and look forward to answering all of your questions.
As will become clear, I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did.
From 2002 to 2015, the Trump Organization and NBC Universal were co-owners of the Miss Universe pageant. Over the years, the pageant has been held in countries around the world, including Cyprus, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Mexico, Bahamas, Vietnam and Brazil. On November 9, 2013, the pageant was held at the Crocus City Hall, a concert venue in Moscow, Russia, owned by real estate developer Aras Agalarov. Though I did not attend the Miss Universe pageant, I have been to Russia on a few occasions, most recently in 2011.
Following the pageant, the Trump Organization and Mr. Agalarov’s company, Crocus Group, began preliminarily discussing potential real estate projects in Moscow. This was not the first time the Trump Organization had explored potential real estate deals in Russia. As a global real estate and hotel company, with projects currently in Canada, India, Indonesia, Ireland,Panama, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and elsewhere, prior
to the election, the Trump Organization was looking to expand into new international markets –just like its competitors.
Ultimately, however, the company was not able to find a suitable project and has not consummated any real estate deals or made other investments in Russia.
Sometime after the pageant, the Trump Organization invited Mr. Agalarov’s son, Emin, a successful pop singer, to perform at the WGC-Cadillac Championship golf tournament, which was being held in March 2014 at the Trump National Golf Course in Doral, Florida. As I was not in attendance at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, this was the first time I recall meeting Emin and his manager, Robert Goldstone, in person.
On June 16, 2015, my father announced his intention to run for President of the United States. Over the next year and a half, my father campaigned tirelessly, traveling all across the country in an effort to convey his vision for the country to the American people.
Though I had no prior experience in politics, my father’s message to the country inspired me, as it did millions of others. From the moment he announced his candidacy, my siblings and I worked day in and day out to support our father. I had never worked on a campaign before and it was an exhausting, all encompassing, life-changing experience. Every single day I fielded dozens, if not hundreds, of emails and phone calls. Because my father started off as the underdog, we had a very modest staff and were forced to learn as we went along. Every day presented numerous challenges and required my attention to many different issues.
The Republican primaries began on February 1, 2016 with the Iowa caucuses. Although my father did not win Iowa, over the next several months he was fortunate to prevail in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts and many other states. Nevertheless, as of June 2016, it was still uncertain whether my father would receive
the nomination for President at the Republican National Convention in mid-July. Despite overwhelming support from the American people, it was widely reported that some within the party were attempting to undermine the process in an effort to force a contested convention.
While this was going on, we were also in the process of replacing our campaign manager. It was
an extraordinarily intense period of time.
In the midst of this maelstrom, on the morning of June 3, 2016, I received an email from Rob Goldstone. Although I had not seen him in quite some time, Rob would intermittently contact me. For example, when Emin would perform in the New York area, Rob would graciously invite me to attend. Similarly, after my father announced his candidacy, Rob was
among the many individuals who would reach out from time to time to congratulate us on winning a primary or to show their support.
In his email to me Rob suggested that someone had “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia” and that the information would be “very useful” to the campaign. I was somewhat skeptical of his outreach, as I had only known Rob as Emin’s somewhat colorful music promoter who had worked with famous pop singers such as Michael Jackson.
Since I had no additional information to validate what Rob was saying, I did not quite know what to make of his email. I had no way to gauge the reliability, credibility or accuracy of any of the things he was saying. As it later turned out, my skepticism was justified. The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out not to be about what had been represented. The meeting was instead primarily focused on Russian adoptions, which is exactly what I said over a year later in my statement of July 8, 2017.
Nonetheless, at the time, I thought I should listen to what Rob and his colleagues had to say. 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. Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration. I also note that at this time there was not the focus on
Russian activities that there is today.
In responding to Rob’s email, I wrote back and suggested that “perhaps I just speak to Emin first.” As much as some have made of my using the phrase “I love it”, it was simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob’s gesture. Three days later, on June 6th, Rob contacted me again about scheduling a time for a call with Emin. My phone records show three
very short phone calls between Emin and me between June 6th and 7th. I do not recall speaking to Emin. It is possible that we left each other voice mail messages. I simply do not remember.
The next day, June 7th, I received a follow-up email from Rob inquiring about dates and times for a meeting. In one of the emails, Rob mentioned that “two people” would be attending, one of whom was a lawyer. I later learned from Rob that the lawyer was already scheduled to be in court in New York on June 9th. I have also seen press reports that she was on Capitol Hill and attended a congressional hearing on June 14th.
While Rob said he would send me the names of the attendees for the June 9th meeting, he never did. As a result, I had no advance knowledge of who would attend. I told Rob that Jared Kushner and our newly hired campaign manager, Paul Manafort, would likely also attend. I then asked Jared and Paul if they could attend, but told them none of the substance or who was going to be there, since I did not know myself. Because we were in the same building, Paul, Jared and I would routinely invite one another to attend meetings on a moment’s notice.
June 9th was like every other day during the campaign: chaotic. In addition to the campaign, we still had a company to run. Because my father was solely focused on fulfilling his promise to the American people, responsibility for the company fell squarely on the shoulders of my siblings and me. Accordingly, I spent June 9th in and out of a series of campaign and business related meetings and interviews. The meeting which Rob asked for was on my calendar at 4 pm, marked simply as “Meeting: Don Jr. / Jared Kushner.”
As I recall, at or around 4 pm, Rob Goldstone came up to our offices and entered our conference room with a lawyer who I now know to be Natalia Veselnitskaya. Joining them was a translator and a man who was introduced to me as Irakli Kaveladze. After a few minutes, Jared and Paul joined.
While numerous press outlets have reported that there were a total of eight people present at the meeting, I only recall seven. Because Rob was able to bring the entire group up by only giving his name to the security guard in the lobby, I had no advance warning regarding who or how many people would be attending. There is no attendance log to refer back to and I did not take notes.
After perfunctory greetings, the lawyer began telling the group very generally something about individuals connected to Russia supporting or funding Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee. It was quite difficult for me to understand what she was saying or why. Given our busy schedules, we politely asked if she could be more specific and provide more clarity about her objective for the meeting. At that point, Ms. Veselnitskaya pivoted and began talking about the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and something called the Magnitsky Act.
Until that day, I had never heard of the Magnitsky Act and had no familiarity with this issue. It was clear to me that her real purpose in asking for the meeting all along was to discuss Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act. At this point, Jared excused himself from the meeting to take a phone call. I proceeded to quickly and politely end the meeting by telling Ms. Veselnitskaya that because my father was a private citizen there did not seem to be any point to having this discussion. She thanked us for our time and everyone left the conference room. As we walked out, I recall Rob coming over to me to apologize. I have no recollection of any documents being offered or left for us. The meeting lasted 20-30 minutes and Rob, Emin and I never discussed the meeting again. I do not recall ever discussing it with Jared, Paul or anyone
else. In short, I gave it no further thought.
As is clear from the above, I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did. I am grateful for the opportunity to help resolve any lingering concerns that may exist regarding these events. I am very proud of the campaign my father ran and was honored to be a part of it.