Donald Trump Jr. says he's 'happy' to talk to Senate about meeting with Russian lawyer

Key Points
  • Donald Trump Jr. says he will be "happy" to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee about a meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer.
  • Members of both the Senate and House intelligence committees have called for interviews with him about the meeting last year in which he was offered dirt on former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Why Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer matters

Donald Trump Jr. said Monday that he is "happy" to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who offered dirt on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump Jr.: Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know.

On Monday, intelligence committee member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called on the panel to interview Trump and "others who attended" the June 2016 meeting, according to Politico. That included President Donald Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and his then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, both of whom the younger Trump invited to the meeting.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the intelligence committee's vice chairman, said later Monday that he "absolutely" wants to meet with Trump about the meeting. It shows a "constant pattern of convenient forgetfulness" on the part of Trump campaign associates and meetings with Russia, he added.

The Senate panel, other congressional committees and a Department of Justice-appointed special counsel are investigating Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin coordinated. The persisting probes have frustrated President Trump since he took office; he denies collusion with Russia.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, also expressed interest in interviewing Trump Jr. about the meeting.

The New York Times, which first reported the meeting, described the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as "Kremlin-connected." Trump said he did not know her name when he took the meeting. If he knew her links to the Kremlin, that would give a clearer signal that the Trump campaign was "willing to accept help from the Russians," according to Jeffrey Cramer, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and managing director at Berkeley Research Group.

The president's legal team has said Trump did not attend the meeting and did not have knowledge of it. Trump Jr. also said Kushner and Manafort knew "nothing of the substance" about the meeting.

On Monday, the White House defended Trump Jr.'s actions. Principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders contended that he did nothing inappropriate, saying that he "took a very short meeting from which there was absolutely no follow-up."