Donald Trump Jr. met with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday to give his first-hand account on what really happened at Trump Tower during the 2016 election when he met up with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Rather than answer all the questions, he cited attorney-client privilege to avoid telling lawmakers about a conversation he had with his father, President Donald Trump.
The weird thing about this is that neither Trump Jr. nor his dad is an attorney, but in citing the attorney-client privilege, he says an attorney was merely present in the room during the discussion, so the conversation should be protected.
That drew fire from the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California.
“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” he said, after the committee’s lengthy interview with Trump Jr. “That’s not the purpose of the attorney-client privilege.”
Trump Jr. previously stated that his father had no knowledge about the meeting, but now that he is under oath (or at least can be held liable by law for incorrect and false statements) he’d rather not discuss what his father did or did not know. This appears to be a legal mechanism Trump is trying to deploy while expressing full openness to the media.
But, his story has changed over time.
When the media first got wind of the story and the emails he sent regarding the meeting, Trump Jr. released them right after they were already in the hands of reporters. He then tried to portray the meeting as harmless and “short” and “introductory.” It was then revealed later on that the meeting went pretty in-depth and it was not about an issue “focused on adoption.”
We know this because all of the senior members of Trump’s campaign were present in the room – a total of eight of them. That included Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who has already been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.
Over time, Trump revised his statements and it was revealed that even President Trump himself crafted the initial, in factual response to the Times story that broke wind of the meeting.
Republicans on the committee didn’t care to press Trump Jr. on the matter, but Schiff wanted it on the record that Trump Jr. was unwilling to answer the question.
“I don’t think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would dispute the fact that as to this very central conversation between father and son, the witness declined to answer the question,” he said.
If Republicans in Congress don’t care, we know who does. It’s been said that Robert Mueller is expecting to hand down several more indictments in the case and Trump Jr. along with Trump’s son-in-law, are both on his radar.