A 'serious case of amnesia': House Intel Democrat says Trump Jr. was 'pretty non-responsive' in 8-hour interview

  • Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee said their Wednesday interview with Donald Trump Jr., was unhelpful to their ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.
  • Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN her takeaway was that Trump Jr. "has a very serious case of amnesia," and said he was "pretty non-responsive" during the meeting.
  • The interview covered several topics including Trump Jr.'s contacts with WikiLeaks and an infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that landed the president's eldest son in hot water during the summer.


President Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr., was "pretty non-responsive" on a range of issues during his eight-hour testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, according to a Democratic member of the committee.

"My takeaway is he has a very serious case of amnesia," Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN on Wednesday just after the lengthy interview ended.

"He was pretty non-responsive on a lot of issues that, frankly, you would have a recollection of, considering it was just a year ago that many of these events took place when Donald Trump was the candidate," Speier said. "He was by his father’s side; he was campaigning with his father. And you get the impression in listening to him that he didn’t spend much time talking to his father."

Speier added that Trump Jr.'s responses seemed unusually black-and-white.

"Lots of people don’t recall things," she said. "But, I would say that there are elements of this where he was very clear and knew precisely what had happened, and then other circumstances he didn’t at all."

Committee Democrats asked Trump Jr. about his correspondence with WikiLeaks, but focused most of their questions on the meeting he attended at Trump Tower last June with his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, his father's campaign chairman at the time.

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Donald Trump, Jr., son of US President Donald Trump, attends the 139th White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. arrives to speak during the second session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Donald Trump Jr. pumps his fist after speaking about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa attend the second day session at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump Jr. speaks about his father, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Tiffany Trump. daughter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, sits near her half-brother Donald Trump Jr. (C) during evening speeches at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) smiles as his son Donald Trump Jr. speaks for a moment at a campaign rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Donald Trump Jr, son of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, tours the arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Donald Trump Jr. (R) kicks balloons into the crowd as Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence stand with their families onstage at the end of the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump Jr with his children arrives at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., after Easter weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Donald Trump Jr. (R) makes remarks at a press conference while Joo Kim Tiah (C) the CEO of TA Global, the owner and developer of Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver, looks on with Eric Danziger the CEO of Trump Hotels (L) during the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Nick Didlick
U.S. President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump, Jr., watch children roll Easter Eggs at 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool
BOZEMAN, MT - APRIL 22: Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a rally for Republican Greg Gianforte as he campaigns for the Montana House of Representatives seat vacated by the appointment of Ryan Zinke to head the Department of Interior on April 22, 2017 in Bozeman, Montana. Gianforte is running against democrat Rob Quist in the special election to be held on May 25, 2017. (Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)
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At one point, they homed in on the first statement Trump Jr. issued in response to the New York Times' disclosure of the June 9 meeting. Multiple media reports have indicated that the president crafted that response, which was misleading in that it failed to mention Trump Jr.'s motivation for taking the meeting: to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell said on Wednesday that Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege and "refused to share anything" about what he and his father may have discussed about the statement when it was being drafted.

Trump Jr. did tell the committee, however, that he engaged in a back-and-forth about the wording of the statement with communications director Hope Hicks, a committee source confirmed to Business Insider. 

"I think the overriding issue here is, why does every road lead to Russia?" Speier said on Wednesday.

"Every business deal, every engagement. The engagement with WikiLeaks was all quite opaque in terms of how it all started, why he [Trump Jr.] was able to direct-message with him [WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange]," she added. "So, there’s still a lot of pieces to this puzzle that we don’t have the answers to."

Swalwell agreed with Speier's characterization of Trump Jr.'s testimony as evasive and somewhat unhelpful, and said the Democrats plan to present the Republicans with legal arguments for why attorney-client privilege "doesn't apply" just because — as Trump Jr. asserted — lawyers were present for the conversations in question. 

But ultimately, Swalwell said, "it's up to the Republicans whether or not to call him back."

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