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Democratic senator says Trump Jr. may have lied in congressional testimony

Sen. Chris Coons said that newly reported information called the younger Trump's account into question, and that he should return for more questioning at an open hearing.
Image: Donald Trump Jr. stands in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 18, 2017.
Donald Trump Jr. has come under fresh scrutiny amid fresh reports of 2016 meetings with foreign nationals.Albin Lohr-Jones / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., says the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., may have provided "false testimony" to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was asked about the Trump campaign's involvement with foreign governments and foreign nationals.

In a two-page letter Thursday to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the panel, Coons said that information in recent news reports contradicts Trump Jr.'s September 2017 testimony.

"I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned that, based on new information we learned this week, Donald Trump Jr. provided false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I would like to renew my request that he be called to return and appear before the full committee to testify in an open hearing," Coons wrote.

Trump Jr. told the committee at the time that he was not "aware" of foreign governments other than Russia offering or providing assistance to the Trump campaign and that he had not sought such help.

His comments are not consistent with a reported meeting he had in August 2016, Coons said.

"This testimony is contradicted by multiple recent news reports that three months before the election, Mr. Trump Jr. and campaign adviser Stephen Miller met with George Nader, an emissary for the crown princes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia; Joel Zamel, an Israeli social media specialist linked to Israeli intelligence and the Emirati royal court; and Erik Prince, a campaign donor and private security contractor with business in the Middle East," Coons wrote.

The meeting, first reported by The New York Times last weekend, was held at Trump Tower. Coons noted in his letter that "attendees reportedly offered assistance to Donald Trump's presidential campaign on behalf of foreign governments and foreign nationals" even though it's illegal for foreign governments or nationals to be involved in U.S. elections.

The Democratic senator said that false statements made to Congress are "criminal" and punishable under U.S. law. Coons asked Grassley to call Trump Jr. before an open session of the committee to testify again to clear up the discrepancy.

In the part of Trump Jr.'s closed-door testimony released by the Judiciary Committee last week, he told Congress that he didn't remember telling his father about the June 9, 2016, meeting he had with Russians at Trump Tower before the news about it surfaced last year.