Democratic Sen. Chris Coons on Thursday strongly suggested he thought Donald Trump Jr. lied in his interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee about a meeting he had with two Russians last year at Trump Tower.
“Below is a statute to keep in mind in regards to Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony today,” Coons’ office wrote in an email with the subject line: “On day of Trump Jr. testimony, an important law to remember.”
Coons’ memo then quoted statute 18 U.S.C. 1001(a) & (c)(2), which outlines the punishments for lying to Congress.
“It is important to remember that anyone who testifies in front of a Senate committee is under the restrictions of the False Statements statute that says material false statements to Congress are criminal and punishable with fines or imprisonment or both,” he said in a statement.
Read the full memo below:
It is unclear what Trump Jr. told the committee in the five-hour interview, which was held behind closed doors. But he said in a statement that he agreed to meet with Russians who had promised his father’s presidential campaign damaging information on Hillary Clinton because he wanted to assess Clinton’s “fitness” and “qualifications” for office.
“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 a statement provided to the committee – and obtained by The New York Times – before his closed-doors interview.
“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,” he said.
Trump said in his initial statement after The Times broke the news of the meeting that he and a Russian lawyer primarily “discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
He did not mention in that statement, which subsequent reports said was dictated by his father, that he had been offered compromising information about Clinton in exchange for taking the meeting or that the lawyer had been accompanied by Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin.
FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is now interviewing aides who were aboard Air Force One when President Donald Trump crafted the misleading statement, CNN reported Thursday.