Russia election probe circles back to Trump Tower meeting – NYT

WASHINGTON DC, USA – Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the Russia election meddling probe, is zeroing in on the initial response given by the US president's son over a controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer, the New York Times reported Wednesday, January 31.

Donald Trump Jr issued an initial statement last July saying the meeting, held in Trump Tower in 2016, was set up to discuss a Russian adoption policy.

The statement was reportedly crafted with direct input from President Donald Trump.

But Trump Jr later released a set of pre-meeting emails in which he expressed interest in meeting with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in order to obtain what he was told would be damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"If it's what you say I love it, especially later in the summer," he wrote.

According to the Times report, prosecutors working for Mueller "have questioned numerous White House officials about how the release came together — and about how directly Mr. Trump oversaw the process."

It added that Mueller's team had notified Trump's lawyers that the statement "is one of about a dozen subjects that prosecutors want to discuss in a face-to-face interview" with the president that is currently being negotiated with the White House.

The Times added that Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump's legal team, was expected to testify that White House communications director Hope Hicks may have been planning to obstruct justice.

According to the report, Hicks said during a conference call that Trump Jr's emails ahead of the meeting "will never get out," leading Corallo to believe she intended to have them concealed.

Her lawyer, Robert P. Trout, denied the quote to the newspaper. "She never said that. And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false."

Mueller and two congressional panels are probing Russian interference in the election with the aim of helping Trump beat Clinton, whether the Trump campaign colluded in this effort and whether Trump has tried to obstruct the investigation. –