Senate Panel To Start Releasing Trump Tower Witness Interviews


Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to start releasing transcripts of all of its interviews with participants of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, the chairman of the panel said on Thursday.

“Now it’s time to start officially releasing the transcripts of all witness interviews we have done related to that meeting,” Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said during a committee business meeting.

“Let’s get them out there for everyone to see.”

The Trump Tower meeting, which occurred on June 9, 2016, has been a focus of congressional investigators since it was reported on last July. Donald Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after being offered dirt on Hillary Clinton from Rob Goldstone, a music publicist and Trump family associate.

Goldstone told Trump Jr. that a Russian government attorney — later identified as Natalia Veselnitskaya — would attend the meeting and that it was part of the Russian government’s efforts to help Donald Trump’s campaign.

Trump Jr. heartily accepted the meeting, telling Goldstone “if it is what you say I love it.”

Veselnitskaya and Goldstone attended the meeting along with Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, translator Anatoli Samorchornov, and a businessman named Ike Kaveladze.

Trump Jr. was flanked by Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The meeting stoked allegations of Trump campaign collusion, though Trump Jr. has said that the meeting provided nothing of substance to the campaign. He also claimed that there was no follow up with the Russian delegation.

Instead of providing dirt on Clinton, Veselnitskaya pitched the campaign on helping roll back the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law opposed by the Russian government.

Another wrinkle in the story is that Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin were working at the time of the meeting with Glenn Simpson, the founder of the opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous Steele dossier.

Simpson, who was interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Aug. 22, claimed that he was not aware of the Trump Tower meeting until it was reported in the news.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, released a transcript of Simpson’s testimony earlier this month.

Grassley took a chance on Thursday to criticize Feinstein for that decision, which she has said she regretted.

“I had hoped to speak with all the witnesses surrounding the Trump Tower meeting before releasing any of those interview transcripts. But the Ranking Member unilaterally released the transcript of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson,” Grassley said.

“That has spooked other potential witnesses,” he said, identifying Kushner as a witness who likely will not be interviewed by the committee.

Thus, all of the committee’s interviews “are complete,” said Grassley.

The committee has interviewed Trump Jr. and many of the Russians involved in the meeting. Veselnitskaya provided written responses to the committee in November. Manafort was interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“That section of our investigation is done,” Grassley said of the committee’s Trump Tower inquiry.

He said he hopes that the transcripts can be released either through an agreement with Feinstein or through a committee vote.

“I’d like to work on getting that done as soon as possible,” he said.

The committee would release transcripts of interviews with Trump Jr., Akhmetshin, Kaveladze, Samochornov, and Goldstone.

As for when the transcripts will be made public, a spokesman for the Judiciary Committee said he has no firm guidance on a release date.

“The transcripts will need to be carefully redacted where necessary and prepared for public release. This process will take some time,” George Hartmann said in a note to reporters.


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