ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
There are some new developments in the investigations into Russian election interference. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee released thousands of pages of documents. They include emails and interview transcripts from Donald Trump Jr. and other key witnesses. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson's here to unpack what she has learned. Hi, Carrie.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: You've been digging through about 2,500 pages of material that lawmakers dumped out this morning. What stands out?
JOHNSON: These are documents the Judiciary Committee gathered to try to understand a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The meeting was attended by a Russian lawyer who had promised some dirt on Hillary Clinton. And also, there were Donald Trump Jr., Trump's campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Now, Trump Jr. was interviewed by Senate investigators. He said he can't remember if he talked about his father - talked with his father about this meeting before it happened, but the documents released today say before the meeting, Trump Jr. had a phone call with someone who had a blocked phone number. Junior says he can't remember who that was. But it's possible it was his father, which would be the first real link tying Donald Trump to that meeting.
SHAPIRO: And Senate investigators also obtained emails and text messages of other people who helped arrange that Trump Tower meeting. Did they tell us anything new?
JOHNSON: Yeah. Rob Goldstone, who's an entertainment publicist, helped set up that meeting. His emails and correspondence feature a lot in this document dump today. Shortly after the meeting happened, Goldstone wrote an email to a friend who was there. He said it seems eerily weird that a story has broken about hacks into the Democratic National Committee emails given the timing of this Trump Tower meeting with the Russians offering dirt. And then, months later, Ari, in 2017, when it was publicly reported that this Trump Tower meeting had happened, Goldstone wrote again to a colleague that the meeting was causing massive problems. That's because Trump's lawyer said it links Donald Jr. to the Russians, which he had publicly denied. Rob Goldstone said he was worried, but he got assurances from lawyers close to The Trump Organization and other advisers just to stick to the message everyone else had crafted about this meeting.
SHAPIRO: And then separate from all these documents that the Senate released, there was also a development in court involving a company controlled by an ally of Vladimir Putin. What happened there?
JOHNSON: Yeah. These are American lawyers for the company known as Concord Management and Consulting, which is tied to a man known as Vladimir Putin's chef because he has so many catering contracts. These lawyers are fighting an indictment that accuses them of funding an Internet-trolling campaign to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. The Russians are challenging charges brought by the special counsel team led by Robert Mueller. And in court today, they signaled they will take a very aggressive approach. They want to file motion after motion demanding evidence, other details of how this investigation was put together. Today, a lawyer for the special counsel said there may be about two terabytes of information - huge amount of data - social media accounts designed to interfere and undermine the election all in Russian. But before special counsel Mueller turns any of that over, they want an agreement from the defense not to release any of that material in public.
SHAPIRO: And there are so many different threads to this. Before we let you go, I want to ask about the latest development involving Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
JOHNSON: Yeah, the mind reels. Another legal development in the last 24, 48 hours. Manafort asked the court to throw out his indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges. He'd argued the special counsel exceeded its mandate. But a judge, Amy Berman Jackson in D.C., considered that idea and has soundly rejected it. The judge ruled Paul Manafort's business dealings with the pro-Russia government in Ukraine formed the basis for these charges. And that's a natural thing for investigators to look at if they're trying to find out whether any Russians interfered in the election and whether any Americans cooperated.
SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Carrie Johnson pulling together a lot of different storylines involving the Russia investigation. Thanks as always, Carrie.
JOHNSON: My pleasure.
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