WASHINGTON: A music promoter who promised Donald Trump Jr over email that a Russian lawyer would provide dirt about Hillary Clinton in June 2016 made the offer because he had been assured the Moscow attorney was “well connected” and had “damaging material,” the promoter testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Rob Goldstone told the committee that his client, the Russian pop star and developer Emin Agalarov, had insisted he help set up the meeting between President Trump’s son and the lawyer during the campaign to pass along material on Clinton, overriding Goldstone’s own warnings that the meeting would be a bad idea.
“He said, ‘it doesn’t matter. You just have to get the meeting,” Goldstone, a British citizen, testified.
Key point of scrutiny
The intensity with which Agalorov and his father, the billionaire Aras Agalarov, sought the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a key point of scrutiny for congressional inquiries and special counsel Robert S. Mueller, was revealed in more than 2,500 pages of congressional testimony and exhibits that were released by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning.
Committee Democrats circulated some excerpts from the testimony in advance of their formal release at 9am.
The excerpted testimony shows that attendees at the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting largely agreed with Trump Jr’s long-standing contention that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, did not transmit dirt about Clinton. She has denied she was acting on behalf of the Russian government.
But the new information helps explain why Goldstone had written the candidate’s son before the meeting that Veselnitskaya would bring “very high level and sensitive information” that was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” — and why Trump Jr. responded, “if it is what you say, then I love it.”
The excerpts also shed light on the anxiety that rippled through President Trump’s orbit a year later, as news of the meeting became public and his aides and lawyers tried to manage the story.
Ties with Putin
The testimony also includes new details about Trump’s long interest in building business ties to Russia and a relationship with President Vladimir Putin.
An Agalarov employee testified to the committee that the Russian mogul tried to get Trump a meeting with Putin when the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owned, was held in Moscow in 2013.
The employee told the committee that Agalarov “secretly requested” the meeting through a Russian government official. Putin agreed to attend a pageant rehearsal, but cancelled at the last minute.