The Senate Intelligence Committee has obtained phone records showing that Donald Trump Jr. did not speak with his father from a blocked telephone number in the days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016.
The finding, first reported by CNN, undercuts Democrats’ theory that Trump Jr. may have told his father in those phone calls about the Trump Tower meeting, which was held on June 9, 2016, with a group of Russians who had offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Democrats led by California Rep. Adam Schiff have long theorized that the phone calls were between father and son and that they could have discussed the meeting.
“We wanted to get the phone records to determine, was Donald Trump talking to his son about this meeting,” Schiff told CNN in November.
“It’s an obvious investigative step, but one the Republicans were unwilling to take because they were afraid of where the evidence might lead.”
But according to CNN, phone records provided to the Senate Intelligence panel shows that the calls were between Trump Jr. and two business associates.
The calls were made in the days before the Trump Tower meeting. Another call occurred several hours after the meeting. The identity of the business associates is not clear.
Investigators with both the special counsel’s office and in Congress have been interested in the Trump Tower meeting because Trump Jr. accepted it after being told that a Russian attorney wanted to provide information about Hillary Clinton.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, showed up to the meeting with several Russian associates, including a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin.
Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin also happened to be working during that same period with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the Steele dossier. They have claimed that the Trump Tower meeting had nothing to do with their work with Fusion GPS.
Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting. But all parties involved have said that the meeting was a waste of time. They’ve said that Veselnitskaya merely used the meeting to discuss the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. sanctions law against Russia that is opposed by the Kremlin. Veselnitskaya provided a four-page memo that made only one small reference to Clinton.
Democrats have suggested that Trump Jr. lied to Congress and that Trump himself has lied publicly about whether Trump knew about the meeting before it happened. Trump has claimed he learned about it only when the media started inquiring about it in 2017, more than a year after the meeting took place.
Ironically given CNN’s role in breaking the new story, the network has been behind other reporting about Trump Jr. and his Trump Tower conversations that have turned out to be false.
In July 2018, CNN reported that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was involved in a conversation in which Trump Jr. told his father that the meeting with Russians was going to take place. But on Aug. 22, 2018, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis acknowledged that he was a source for the CNN article and that he was mistaken. He said that Cohen did not know whether Trump Jr. told Trump about the meeting.
CNN also retracted a story on Dec. 8, 2017 that falsely claimed that Trump Jr. had received an email on Sept. 4, 2016 that included a link to WikiLeaks emails that had yet to be made public. It turned out that the email was actually dated Sept. 14, 2016, a day after WikiLeaks had posted the emails. A person who Trump Jr. did not know sent him the email with a link to information that had already been made public.
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