Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, admitted before Senate Judiciary Committee investigators on Thursday that he met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer in 2016 in the hopes that he could obtain dirt which would cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's "fitness" to be president.
After saying that he was torn about whether to meet with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and insisting that he would consulted his own lawyers before releasing any information Veselnitskaya might have on Clinton, Trump Jr. explained that he proceeded because the information could have been valuable, according to The New York Times.
"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 said in his prepared statement. "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."
In the original email exchange between Trump Jr. and former tabloid journalist Rob Goldstone, Goldstone claimed that "the Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."
Goldstone added, "This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump."
In response, Trump Jr. wrote that "if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer."
In Trump Jr.'s prepared statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, he insisted that his use of the phrase "love it" should not be interpreted as overly enthusiastic.
"As much as some have made of my using the phrase ‘I love it,’ it was simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob’s gesture," Trump Jr. said.
The White House has previously said that the meeting was only about adoption. In a statement — later revealed to have been drafted in party by President Donald Trump himself — the White House said, "There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption.
That White House statement has been a focus for Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russia collusion allegations.