WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyers should be asked about possible discrepancies between his private testimony to the committee and press reports, but he didn’t endorse a Democratic proposal to bring him in for a public hearing.
“I would suggest Mr. Trump Jr.’s attorneys be asked about these press accounts,” Grassley said Tuesday in a letter to Sen. Chris Coons. The Democrat who serves on the committee had urged Grassley to investigate whether the president’s son had lied to the panel — a crime — when he denied knowledge of any offers of help to his father’s 2016 campaign from foreign governments or foreign nationals other than Russia.
Coons cited a May 19 story in the New York Times saying that Trump Jr. met with emissaries who told him that princes who led Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were eager to help the campaign.
“It is not clear that anything in that article contradicts Mr. Trump, Jr.’s testimony, let alone materially so,” Grassley said. “While it is possible there could be contradictions, there are potentially innocuous explanations.”
The Judiciary chairman has been under pressure from Democrats to hold a public hearing with Trump Jr. for the better part of a year but has resisted doing so. Trump Jr. met with committee staffers for a closed-door interview on Sept. 7, 2017; the panel released the transcript of that session earlier this month.
Grassley has complained Democrats haven’t been interested in pursuing his inquiries to the Justice Department about its handling of the Trump probe, as well as what he says are discrepancies in testimony by other witnesses.
Grassley has posed questions about Glenn Simpson, who headed the political intelligence firm Fusion GPS, and Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote a disputed dossier on Trump that was ordered up by Simpson’s company and underwritten by Trump rival Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
In the letter, Grassley cited what he said were discrepancies between Simpson’s testimony to the committee and another person’s reported testimony to the FBI.
“Despite the fact Mr. Simpson said he had no client after the election, he in fact did, and that client revealed himself to the FBI,” Grassley said.