Donald Trump Jr., the oldest son of President Donald Trump, met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 because he hoped to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s “fitness” for the White House, he told Senate investigators Thursday, according to a report from The New York Times.
Trump Jr. has been speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee about meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer he was told had connections to the Kremlin, during last year’s presidential campaign.
“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 a statement to committee members. “Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration.”
He said he intended to seek legal advice about using any information from the meeting, according to the Times ― but that it didn’t yield anything, and that he did not collude with the Russian government.
Trump Jr.’s explanations for the meeting have shifted considerably since it was first revealed. He originally described it as a “short introductory meeting,” primarily focused on “a program about the adoption of Russian children.” The following day, however, he acknowledged that that he hoped attending would yield “potentially helpful information” about Clinton for the Trump campaign.
In July, after being informed of a forthcoming Times story describing the email exchange setting up the meeting, Trump Jr. tweeted out images of the emails himself. In one message, music promoter Rob Goldstone, who helped to facilitate the meeting, wrote that it could yield “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.”
In response, Trump Jr. wrote, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, described Trump Jr.’s statement as “significant both in what is included, and what is excluded.”
Trump Jr.‘s explanation that he was looking for information about Clinton “is far afield of the impression he originally conveyed about a meeting ‘about adoptions,’” Schiff tweeted Thursday night.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, has also reportedly raised questions about how much the president, who helped dictate his son’s initial statement, knew about the meeting.
This article has been updated with Schiff’s response to Trump Jr.’s statement.