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Thousands of pages of congressional testimony shed light on 2016 Trump Tower meeting

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A music promoter who promised Donald Trump Jr. over email that a Russian lawyer would provide dirt about Hillary Clinton in June 2016 made the offer because he had been assured the Moscow attorney was “well connected” and had “damaging material,” the promoter testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rob Goldstone told the committee that his client, the Russian pop star and developer Emin Agalarov, had insisted he help set up the meeting between President Trump’s son and the lawyer during the campaign to pass along material on Clinton, overriding Goldstone’s own warnings that the meeting would be a bad idea.

“He said, ‘it doesn’t matter. You just have to get the meeting,’ ” Goldstone, a British citizen, testified.

The intensity with which Agalarov and his father, the billionaire Aras Agalarov, sought the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a key point of scrutiny for congressional inquiries and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, was revealed in more than 2,500 pages of congressional testimony and exhibits released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.

The testimony shows that attendees at the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting largely agreed with Trump Jr.’s long-standing contention that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, did not transmit dirt about Clinton. She has denied she was acting on behalf of the Russian government.

But the new information helps explain why Goldstone had written the candidate’s son before the meeting that Veselnitskaya would bring “very high level and sensitive information” that was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” — and why Trump Jr. responded, “if it is what you say, then I love it.”

The testimony also sheds light on the anxiety that rippled through President Trump’s orbit a year later, as news of the meeting became public and his aides and lawyers tried to manage the story.

The testimony also includes new details about Trump’s long interest in building business ties to Russia and a relationship with President Vladi­mir Putin.

An Agalarov employee testified to the committee that the Russian mogul tried to get Trump a meeting with Putin when the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owned, was held in Moscow in 2013.

The employee told the committee that Agalarov “secretly requested” the meeting through a Russian government official that the employee believed to be Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Putin agreed to attend a pageant rehearsal but canceled at the last minute. Though Trump periodically claimed during the campaign that he knew Putin, there is no evidence the two men met until after Trump took office.


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http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-pol-trump-tower-meeting-transcripts-20180516-story.html

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