WASHINGTON – The Senate Intelligence Committee obtained phone records showing Donald Trump Jr. did not speak with his father from a blocked telephone number in the days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016.
The finding, first reported by CNN, undercuts Democrats’ theory Trump Jr. might have told his father in those phone calls about the Trump Tower meeting, which was held June 9, 2016, with a group of Russians who had offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Democrats led by California Rep. Adam Schiff long theorized the phone calls were between father and son and that they could have discussed the meeting.
“We wanted to get the phone records to determine, was Donald Trump talking to his son about this meeting,” Schiff told CNN in November 2018.
“It’s an obvious investigative step, but one the Republicans were unwilling to take because they were afraid of where the evidence might lead.”
Phone records provided to the Senate Intelligence panel shows the calls were between Trump Jr. and two business associates, according to CNN.
The calls were made in the days before the Trump Tower meeting. Another call occurred several hours after the meeting. The identity of the business associates is not clear.
Investigators with both the special counsel’s office and in Congress have been interested in the Trump Tower meeting because Trump Jr. accepted it after being told a Russian attorney wanted to provide information about Hillary Clinton.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, showed up to the meeting with several Russian associates, including a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin.
Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin also happened to be working during that same period with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the Steele dossier. They have claimed the Trump Tower meeting had nothing to do with their work with Fusion GPS.
Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting. But all parties involved have said the meeting was a waste of time. They’ve said Veselnitskaya merely used the meeting to discuss the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. sanctions law against Russia that is opposed by the Kremlin. Veselnitskaya provided a four-page memo that made only one small reference to Hillary Clinton.
Democrats have suggested Trump Jr. lied to Congress and that Trump himself has lied publicly about whether Trump knew about the meeting before it happened. Trump has claimed he learned about it only when the press started inquiring about it in 2017, more than a year after the meeting took place.
Ironically given CNN’s role in breaking the new story, the network has been behind other reporting about Trump Jr. and his Trump Tower conversations that have turned out to be false.
Just out: The big deal, very mysterious Don jr telephone calls, after the innocent Trump Tower meeting, that the media & Dems said were made to his father (me), were just conclusively found NOT to be made to me. They were made to friends & business associates of Don. Really sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2019
CNN reported in July 2018 former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was involved in a conversation in which Trump Jr. told his father that the meeting with Russians was going to take place. But on Aug. 22, 2018, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis acknowledged he was a source for the CNN article and that he was mistaken. He said Cohen did not know whether Trump Jr. told Trump about the meeting.
CNN also retracted a story Dec. 8, 2017, that falsely claimed Trump Jr. had received an email Sept. 4, 2016, that included a link to a WikiLeaks emails that had yet to be made public. It turned out the email was actually dated Sept. 14, 2016, a day after WikiLeaks had posted the emails. A person who Trump Jr. did not know sent him the email with a link to information that had already been made public.