Trump Jr tells senators 'no collusion' with Russians
President Donald Trump's eldest son has told politicians that he was open to receiving information about Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" in a meeting with a Russian lawyer last year.
However, Donald Trump Jr insisted that neither he nor anyone else he knows colluded with any foreign government during the presidential campaign.
His description of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, delivered in an opening statement at the outset of a closed-door Senate Judiciary Committee interview, provided his most detailed account of an encounter that has attracted the attention of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.
Several congressional committees and Mr Mueller's team of prosecutors are investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the election.
A grand jury used by Mr Mueller as part of his investigation has already heard testimony about the meeting, which besides Mr Trump Jr, included the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
In Thursday's prepared remarks, Mr Trump Jr sought to explain emails he released two months ago that showed him agreeing to the meeting, which had been described as part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign.
In his new statement, he said he was sceptical of the arrangement by music publicist Rob Goldstone, who said he had information that could be damaging to Ms Clinton.
But Mr Trump Jr said he thought he "should listen to what Rob and his colleagues had to say".
"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," Mr Trump Jr said in the statement.
At one point during the email exchange, Mr Trump Jr had told Mr Goldstone, "If it's what you say I love it especially in the summer".
Mr Trump Jr sought to explain that remark by saying it was "simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob's gesture".
Mr Trump Jr agreed to the Senate interview after the committee chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, subpoenaed him and Mr Manafort.
The committee withdrew the subpoenas after the two agreed to be interviewed privately by staff.
Mr Grassley said they both would eventually be questioned by senators in a public hearing.
Mr Trump Jr is also expected to appear before the Senate intelligence committee at some point.
Sen Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, said the senators want to speak with others who attended the June meeting before interviewing Mr Trump Jr.
"We want to do this in a thorough way that gets the most information possible," Sen Warner said.
Mr Manafort met privately with staff on that committee in July.
Mr Kushner has met with that staff, as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee.