Senate Intelligence Committee Sent Bipartisan Criminal Referrals Of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner & Erik Prince For Lying To Congress
The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee made criminal referrals last year of Donald Trump Jr., White House adviser Jared Kushner and several other Trump associates, due to suspicions that they lied and provided false testimony during the Committee’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The former chairman of the committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) told federal prosecutors last year that testimony from Trump Jr. and Kushner contradicted that given to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller by the 2016 Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates.
Burr has since stepped down and been replaced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) amid an investigation into possible insider trading.
The two committee leaders also informed prosecutors that White House strategist Steve Bannon, former campaign co-chair Sam Clovis and Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and brother to Education Secretary Betsy Devos, all lied to congressional investigators.
The committee additionally requested the Justice Department to look into Clovis’ interactions with Republican donor Peter Smith, who led a covert effort to uncover former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s missing emails, to see if he had lied to the investigators.
A large part of the referrals centers around a meeting between Trump Jr., Kushner and a Kremlin-linked lawyer at the Trump Tower. Trump Jr. initially claimed the meeting revolved around adoptions, but emails later showed the meeting was agreed to after learning the lawyer had “official documents and information” which would incriminate Clinton.
Gates corroborated the latter claims, testifying that Trump Jr. said at a campaign meeting he had a tip about “negative information about the Clinton Foundation.”
A lawyer for Trump Jr. denied allegations that the president’s son lied in his testimony.
“We are fully confident in the testimony and information provided by Donald J. Trump, Jr.,” Alan Futerfas told the Los Angeles Times.
Criminal referrals for Bannon, Clovis and Prince were issued to Mueller three months after his report on Russian collusion was released.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Senate Intelligence Committee believed Prince lied about his communications with Russian hedge fund manager Rick Gerson. He and Bannon gave contradicting testimony about the conversations Prince had with Gerson, leading the committee to suspect Prince was working to create a secret backchannel between Russia and the Trump administration.
The news of last year’s referrals came the same week that the committee released its final report on its bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report, released Tuesday, among other assertions concluded that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort collaborated with a “Russian intelligence officer,” who may have worked to hack Clinton’s campaign.
Democrats on the committee asserted their findings amounted to evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, whereas Rubio expressed that it only showed evidence of Russian meddling.
“The committee obtained some information suggesting that the Russian intelligence officer, with whom Manafort had a longstanding relationship, may have been connected to the G.R.U.’s hack-and-leak operation targeting the 2016 U.S. election,” the Democrats wrote. “This is what collusion looks like.”
After the report’s release, Rubio said in a statement that “the committee found absolutely no evidence that then-candidate Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government” but did find “irrefutable evidence of Russian meddling.”