Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has called on the president’s eldest son, son-in-law and former campaign chair to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about their meeting during the presidential campaign with a Russian lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin.

Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in June after the Russian promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported over the weekend. Trump Jr. confirmed the story in a statement Sunday, saying the lawyer’s “claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”

“I certainly believe that our Intelligence Committee needs to interview him and others who attended the meeting,” Collins told reporters in Washington Monday afternoon, according to Bloomberg. She is the first Republican senator to make such a call.

Trump Jr. said via Twitter later Monday that he was “Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know.”

Collins sits on the 15-member Senate Intelligence Committee, which is in the midst of an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including ties and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and operatives. Maine’s other U.S. senator, independent Angus King, also serves on the committee.

Collins said she suspected the Department of Justice’s special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, also would wish to interview Trump Jr. and the other attendees. “To me, it shows the need for both investigations to continue,” she said.


King said in an email Monday afternoon that he, too, wanted to hear from Trump Jr.

“I think it would be entirely appropriate for the Senate Intelligence Committee to hear not only from Donald Trump Jr. but from Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner as well,” he said. “I hope that all of them will be willing to share with us what they know.”

Collins did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Reuters reported Monday afternoon that aides to the leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees had not responded to inquiries as to whether the younger Trump would be called on to testify.

Trump’s son has changed his story about the meeting several times. In March he told the New York Times he had never met with any Russians “in any way, shape, or form” while working in a campaign capacity. On Saturday he acknowledged the meeting and the presence of Kushner and Manafort, but said it was about Russian adoption policies. Only on Sunday, after the Times reported he had been offered damaging materials about Clinton, did he disclose that aspect of the meeting.

Vice President Mike Pence and White House spokespeople Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks and Sean Spicer all have previously claimed there were no contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians – assertions now contradicted by Trump Jr.’s statements.

Collins and King have repeatedly expressed confidence in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s ability to conduct a thorough and non-partisan probe, despite early rough patches, including Republican Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina’s participation in a White House campaign to cast doubt on media accounts of Russia ties.

Colin Woodard can be contacted at:

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