RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Donald Trump Jr. is speaking out about his decision to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. In light of reports in The New York Times, the president's oldest son posted his own email exchange that led up to that 2016 meeting. In an interview on Fox News Channel's "Hannity" last night, Don Jr. played down the significance of the emails and the meeting.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HANNITY")
DONALD TRUMP JR.: An acquaintance, you know, sent me this email. As a courtesy to him, I said, OK, let's meet. But I didn't know who I was meeting beforehand - never heard of the person, never got the information until they were in the room.
MARTIN: Donald Trump Jr. also said, in retrospect, he would have handled the meeting differently. NPR's Geoff Bennett is here. So Geoff, that's kind of a rare admission from someone in the president's inner circle, to admit a potential misstep.
GEOFF BENNETT, BYLINE: It is. And I think it reflects how dire the consequences are, politically and perhaps legally, considering that this meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had with the Russian lawyer last year in Trump Tower presents the strongest evidence of the Trump campaign's willingness to accept help from the Russian government during the election. And that's the view of some of the key members of the separate congressional committees that are investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election and this overall question of collusion.
MARTIN: So what are they saying? What are lawmakers saying at this point about how this would play into the investigations?
BENNETT: Well, Senator Mark Warner - he's the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. He says this meeting is central to the ongoing Russia investigations. And so his committee, the House intelligence committee, the Senate judiciary committee - they're all now vying for Donald Trump Jr.'s time. Leaders from each of those panels say they want to interview him, and that includes Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. He told reporters yesterday he wants to speak to everyone connected to that meeting, and he wants all of the related documents. Here's a bit more of what he said yesterday.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ADAM SCHIFF: This is obviously very significant, deeply disturbing, new public information about direct contacts between the Russian government and its intermediaries and the very center of the Trump family campaign and organization.
BENNETT: And so one of the things that Schiff wants this panel to investigate is was that meeting in June 2016 the beginning of a larger question. And Trump Jr. says he's willing to cooperate.
MARTIN: NPR's Geoff Bennett. Thanks, Geoff.
BENNETT: You're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.