If Donald Trump, Jr. truly had nothing to hide he would have demanded that his testimony yesterday before the GOP controlled House Intelligence Committee be in public so we can all see it. What a contrast to Hillary Clinton who essentially demanded that her 11-hour marathon grilling over Benghazi by the GOP be out in the open. In fact, as The Atlantic put it back in 2015 at the time of the hearing, Hillary “practically begged the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, to allow her to testify in public.”
But not Don, Jr.!
He was all too happy to accept the special treatment being offered to him by Republicans to testify outside of the view of the American public. Keep in mind this is the second time the GOP members of Congress have spoken to Don Jr. behind the comfy confines of a closed-door session. The first time was back in September when he answered questions for the GOP controlled Senate Intelligence Committee. If there were issues of classified info being exposed, the House intelligence committee would’ve known about it from that September session and been able to ensure that public testimony avoided those areas.
Instead on Wednesday all seven hours of Don, Jr’s hearing was hidden from view depriving us of an opportunity to assess Don Jr.’s credibility and truthfulness. I bet there are even some Trump supporters who would’ve wanted to see that. After all, this is about Russia’s attack on our nation’s elections with the intent to undermine our democracy. We deserve truth and transparency. But instead, we have been deprived of that opportunity by the collusion between Don, Jr and Congressional Republicans.
And after we learned about Don, Jr’s testimony Wednesday that was hidden from the sunlight, it’s even more vital that any future testimony he gives be in public and under oath. As we heard from various members of the House Intelligence Committee, Don, Jr suddenly couldn’t remember details surrounding his June 2016 meeting at Trump Towers with Kremlin linked people who had offered him “dirt” on Clinton in violation of federal election laws.
And the usually sharp Don, Jr. curiously couldn’t recall details regarding why he lied to the American people about this meeting last July when it was first uncovered. As a reminder, Don, Jr. at first claimed this meeting had to do with the adoption of children. But after three days of lies, Don, Jr. finally admitted that the meeting was intended to gather info to help his fathers’ campaign.
As Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif) noted, Don, Jr. suddenly developed a “serious case of amnesia” when pressed for details about the meeting with Russian operatives. She added that Don, Jr. “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.” http://thehill.com/homenews/house/363690-house-democrat-slams-donald-trump-jr-for-serious-case-of-amnesia-after
As a former trial lawyer, I can tell you that when people suddenly don’t remember facts regarding key issues surrounding a significant event they are lying. They have decided, however, to say they don’t remember to avoid lying under oath and being subject later to perjury charges if the truth is ultimately discovered.
We also learned that Don, Jr invoked the attorney-client privilege to evade answering questions about whether his father was involved in crafting the original deceitful response after the disclosure of the Trump Tower meeting.
Was Don, Jr. lying? You should be able to decide that for yourself. You should have been able to determine if Don, Jr. answering key questions with “I don’t remember” and invoking attorney-client privilege was truthful or part of a cover-up. But you didn’t get that chance. Why? Well because Don, Jr. and a handful of Republican elites in Washington D.C. didn’t want you to see it.
If these Republicans believe in transparency and that Americans have the right to assess the credibility of witnesses for ourselves, then the next hearing with Don, Jr and all others in this Russian conspiracy investigation should be out in the open (subject to safeguards for classified info.) We, the people not only can handle the truth – we are entitled to it.
Dean Obeidallah, a former lawyer, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s The Dean Obeidallah Show and is a columnist for The Daily Beast and CNN.com Opinion.