WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr. said Wednesday that he is “not at all” worried that he will face perjury charges over Democrats’ suspicions that he previously lied to Congress, after a second closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee that he said was consistent with his first because there was “nothing to change” about his testimony.
Trump Jr. spent about three hours with the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday as part of its ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The President’s eldest son has been a focus of several investigations — including special counsel Robert Mueller’s — over his involvement in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising incriminating information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Democrats believe Trump Jr.’s characterization of that meeting may have been misleading. He told congressional panels previously that he never informed his father about the audience with the Russian lawyer, but that account was challenged in Mueller’s report. The special counsel’s findings detailed the recollections of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who spoke of a phone call in which Trump Jr. told his father about a meeting to collect “adverse information” on Clinton.
Cohen, who also has spoken to several of the congressional panels investigating Russia’s election interference, is serving a three-year prison sentence for financial crimes and lying to Congress — a fact Trump Jr. noted Wednesday as he defended his prior testimony.
“The reality is there was nothing to change. If there needed to be clarification because Michael Cohen, who let’s not forget is serving time right now for lying to these very investigative bodies, I’m happy to do that,” he told reporters following the interview. “I don’t think I changed anything of what I said, because there was nothing to change. I’m glad that this is finally over; we were able to put some final clarity on that, and I think the committee understands that.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been calling several key witnesses back to the panel for second interviews so senators can have a chance to speak to them directly. To date, the investigation has been run by committee staffers, primarily. The specter of perjury implications complicated scheduling Trump Jr.’s testimony, even after the committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., indicated that he was not inclined to pursue any charges that Mueller — who had access to the committee’s transcripts — had not.
Trump Jr. struck a deal with the panel last month, after months of wrangling and under subpoena, to appear for up to four hours and answer questions on six broad topics, including his interactions with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign and what he told his father about them.
In addition to the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, senators were expected to ask him about his knowledge of Trump’s plans to build a skyscraper in Moscow, and whether his surrogates were encouraged to lie about how long into the campaign those plans continued.
Neither Burr nor the committee’s vice chairman, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., would comment on the substance of Wednesday’s interview.