Donald Trump Jr., President Trump's eldest son, told congressional investigators Thursday he decided to meet with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower last year because he felt he should consider information about Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" to be president after he was promised damaging information on the Democratic presidential candidate.
Trump Jr. met with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday morning and was expected to be questioned for several hours. The Washington Examiner obtained a copy of Trump Jr.'s prepared statement.
According to the statement, Trump Jr. said he didn't glean any damaging information on Clinton during the June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. The president's son also assured congressional investigators he didn't collude with the Russian government.
"I did not collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did," Trump Jr. said.
Trump Jr. told congressional investigators he was conflicted when he learned Veselnitskaya may have harmful information about Clinton, and Trump Jr. said he intended to discuss the use of information he received from the Russian lawyer during the June 2016 meeting with his own lawyers.
"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," Trump Jr. said in his statement. "Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an information decision as to whether to give it further consideration."
Several congressional committees and the Justice Department, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, are investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, as well as ties between Trump campaign officials and Russians.
A British publicist named Rob Goldstone initially approached Trump Jr. via email about meeting with Veselnitskaya in June 2016. The president's son released his email exchange with Goldstone in July.
In his email, Goldstone, who Trump Jr. met through a Russian oligarch, told the president's son Veselnitskaya had damaging information about Clinton. Though Trump Jr. ultimately accepted the invitation to meet with the Russian lawyer, Trump Jr. said in his statement he was unsure of how to interpret Goldstone's email.
"Since I had no additional information to validate what Rob was saying, I did not quite know what to make of his email," he said. "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 what had been represented," he added.
Despite the promise of damaging information on Clinton from Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr. said in July the meeting ended up primarily focusing on the issue of American adoptions of Russian children.
Paul Manafort, then-Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, also attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.