Senate Evidence Clarifies Mystery Calls Around Trump Tower Meeting
The panel’s new chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, has repeatedly said that getting a hold of relevant phone records was one of his top priorities. In an interview on Thursday night on MSNBC, Mr. Schiff said he would still pursue the records and indicated that they might not be exculpatory.
“Those conversations could have taken place over the phone or they could have taken place by Don Jr. walking down the hall to talk to Dad,” Mr. Schiff said, referring to other possible scenarios in which the younger Mr. Trump could have informed his father of the meeting. Mr. Schiff pledged to find out “what the president’s role was in all of this.”
Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Lorber demonstrates that despite the president’s claims that he has no ties to Russia, he has sought to do business there for at least three decades. The chief executive of the holding company Vector Group, Mr. Lorber was an early supporter of Mr. Trump, served as an economic adviser to the campaign and accompanied Mr. Trump to Moscow in November 1996. On that trip, they worked on a plan to create a large building and made a trip to a company tied to Mr. Lober’s holding company, which held stakes in cigarette companies.
As recently as the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump tried to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to documents obtained by investigators examining Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, pursued the deal until at least June 2016, the documents showed. Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators about the length of the negotiations, falsely saying they ended in January 2016, before the Republican primaries began. Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to committing campaign finance violations and financial crimes and is to begin a three-year prison sentence in March.
The calls in question occurred in June 2016, before and after Donald Trump Jr. spoke with Emin Agalarov, a Russia-based singer and Trump family friend, who was helping to set up the meeting. Within days, the younger Mr. Trump met at Trump Tower with a producer who worked for Mr. Agalarov and a Russian lawyer close to the Kremlin. The meeting was set up on the promise that the Russians had damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.
Donald Trump Jr. later said in interviews that the meeting was disappointing because it was “mainly about adoption” and easing Russian sanctions. He was presented with phone records from that time in interviews with congressional investigators and testified that he could not recall whom he spoke with.
When investigators in one session with the Senate Judiciary Committee asked him if he had informed his father about the meeting or the meeting’s original promise, Mr. Trump replied, “No, I did not.”