Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege, according to Rep. Adam Schiff
Some legal experts say the White House's involvement could be problematic
Donald Trump Jr. would not tell House investigators Wednesday what he and his father discussed after reports surfaced about a June 2016 meeting he had in Trump Tower with Russians, citing attorney-client privilege.
President Donald Trump and his son had a conversation this summer after Trump Jr. produced emails about his involvement in the Trump Tower meeting, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and the committee’s ranking member who attended the Wednesday session. At the classified hearing, Trump Jr. acknowledged speaking with senior White House aide Hope Hicks to help craft a response to the initial reports, sources said.
But Trump Jr. did not provide details about communications with his father and invoked attorney-client privilege because of the presence of attorneys during the exchange with his father.
“As I understand it, this particular conversation for which they were claiming privilege took place after the emails became public, and, was therefore focused more on the reaction to the publication of the emails,” Schiff told reporters. Schiff added that he did not believe one could “shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present.”
However, Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the committee’s Russia investigation, did not express the same concerns as Schiff about Trump Jr.’s response.
“A lot of questions were asked and answered, and from my perspective all of our questions were answered,” Conaway said after the interview.
This is the first time that House lawmakers have questioned Trump Jr. about his interactions with the President around the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which the younger Trump attended after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and after being informed that the Russian government wanted his father to win the presidency. Paul Manafort, who was then the Trump campaign chairman, along with the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting.
Trump Jr. acknowledged to House investigators Wednesday that he spoke with Hope Hicks – and not his father – when first confronted with news reports about the Trump Tower meeting, saying they exchanged text messages, sources said.
Instead, Trump Jr. said he was speaking to Hicks – now the White House communications director – about how to respond to the reports. He said the President, according to the sources, was debating between a longer and a shorter statement while Trump and Hicks were aboard Air Force One.
The initial statement in July 2017 gave a misleading impression of the meeting, which later turned out was billed to Trump Jr. as a way to get dirt on the Clintons. And some legal experts say the White House’s involvement could be problematic since there was ongoing criminal probe into Russian meddling.
CNN’s Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.