(CNSNews.com) – Transcripts released Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee say that Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, had dinner with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya both the day before and the day after she met with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.
Simpson had business dealings with Veselnitskaya, and that included a court hearing in New York on June 9, 2016. But Simpson said he did not know about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. He said the subject never came up at either of the dinners he had with Veselnitskaya on June 8 or 10, 2016; and he was “stunned” to learn about it later in The New York Times.
Veselnitskaya, however, told the committee that “no,” she did not have contact with Glenn Simpson on June 8, 9, or 10, 2016. In written responses to questions from the committee, she disputed a news report saying she met with Simpson before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
But in response to another written question, she said she met with Simpson on an “as-needed basis,” but “I cannot name specific dates because I do not keep a log of my meetings…”
Veselnitskaya also told the committee that “no,” she did not inform Simpson of her meeting at Trump Tower, either before or after it happened.
And finally, in his interview with the committee, Donald Trump, Jr. said he had never heard of Fusion GPS or Glenn Simpson when he met with Veselnitskaya and other people with Fusion GPS connections at Trump Tower.
Trump Jr. had never heard of Veselnitskaya, either, before he met her; and he said he was not aware that Fusion GPS was conducting opposition research on his father when the meeting took place.
Here are the relevant portions of the transcripts released today. (Sen. Dianne Feinstein released the Simpson transcript earlier this year.)
Aside from business dealings with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Glenn Simpson was asked if he met with her in person "on other occasions besides court hearings."
"I think I attended a couple client dinners, and I think that's about it," Simpson responded.
"Do you recall when and where those would have been?" the committee staff attorney asked him.
"I recall some of the when and the where," Simpson responded. "There were a couple of dinners in New York and a couple of dinners in D.C. I don't remember when they started. I think probably 2015. And there was some in 2016 in both cities."
"Were any in June 2016?" the attorney asked.
"Yes, two," Simpson replied.
"Were those in New York or in D.C.?"
"I believe that one was in New York and one was in D.C.," Simpson said.
"Do you recall the specific date of either?" the attorney asked.
"I didn't until we tried to piece these things together, but June 8th, I think, was the dinner in New York, and I think the 10th was the dinner in D.C., something like that," Simpson said.
"And what were the purposes of these dinners?" the lawyer asked Simpson.
"Well, the first one was just an obligatory client dinner which, you know, when you work on a legal case you get invited to dinner with the clients. The one in D.C. was more of a social thing. It wasn't -- she was at it, but it wasn't really about the case. It was just a bunch of Mark Cymrot's friends." (Cymrot is a partner at Baker Hostetler, which did business with Fusion GPS.)
"You know, the editor of the Washington Post book section was there and his wife, who's a well-known author were also there. I can't remember who else was there. But anyway, she [Veselnitskaya] sat at the other end of the table from me and, you know, as I said, she doesn't really speak English and I don't speak Russian. So not a lot of chit-chat," Simpson said.
A little later, the committee staff attorney told Simpson, "You mentioned you had dinner with Ms. Veselnitskaya on June 8th and 10th of 2016. Were you generally aware of her trip to the United States in June?"
Simpson said he was aware of it, because "there was some drama over whether she could get a visa" to attend an appellate court hearing in New York on June 9.
“Did you have any other information about Ms. Veselnitskaya's itinerary or intended activities on this trip?” the attorney asked:
“No,” Simpson said. "I mean, I can tell you what I knew. I knew she was coming in, I guess on the 8th. I don't have a clear recollection of the dinner, but I know -- I believe we had a dinner. The problem is I had more than one. So I don't have a clear recollection of it.
“Anyway, I saw her the next day in court at this hearing and I'm sure we exchanged greetings, but, as I say, she speaks Russian and I speak English. I think she was with Anatoli and she left afterwards. I know she didn't tell me any other plans she had.”
“So you had dinner the 8th, saw her in court on the 9th; is that correct?”
"Yes,” Simpson replied.
“And dinner again on the 10th?”
“In D.C.,” Simpson confirmed.
“Did you see her any other time?”
“Not that I recall,” Simpson said.
“Did Fusion play any role assisting Ms. Veselnitskaya during that trip?”
“ Not that I recall,” Simpson said.
“It has widely been reported Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Akhmetshin and others met with Donald Trump, Junior, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner on June 9th, 2016. Were you aware of this meeting beforehand?” the lawyer asked.
“It didn't come up at the dinner the night before?”
“No,” Simpson repeated.
“When did you first become aware of the meeting?”
“Around the time it broke in the New York Times. I was stunned,” Simpson replied.
“Is it correct that that means it wasn't discussed at the dinner on the 10th?”
“No, but, again, you know, the dinner on the 10th was, I was at one end of the table talking to a woman about her biography on Simon Bolivar and she was at the other end with Rinat and she doesn't really speak much English. So, you know, fortunately I was not going to do a lot of entertaining,” Simpson said.
In her written responsea to the Judiciary Committee, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya said "the only purpose" of her trip to the U.S. in June 2016 was to participate in a court hearing on behalf of a client.
"The court hearing was scheduled for June 9," she said, according to the transcript released today.
"Did you have contact with Glenn Simpson on June 8, 9, or 10, 2016?" she was asked in writing. "If so, please describe the contact."
"No, there had been no contacts with him on specified dates," Veselnitskaya wrote in reply. "Last week Fox News38, referring to a confidential source, reported that I met with Glenn Simpson before and after the meeting with Trump's son, and that ‘hours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, in a hearing on the DOJ's claim against Prevezon Holdings…’
"This statement does not reflect the reality," Veselnitskaya said.
"Did you inform him [Simpson] of the meeting at Trump Tower?" Veselnitskaya was asked.
"No," she wrote.
"Do you otherwise have reason to believe he was aware of the meeting at that time?"
"No," she said again.
In a later question, Veselnitskaya was asked, “How many times have you met with Mr. Simpson?"
"I met Glenn Simpson on the as-needed basis, as well as whenever he came to the office to see the lawyers," Veselnitskaya said. (Veselnitskaya had hired a D.C. law firm, which in turn hired Fusion GPS to help with her case.)
"What were the dates of your contacts with him and what was the purpose of each contact?" Veselnitskaya was asked.
"I cannot name specific dates because I do not keep a log of my meetings with the people who work on the case..." she replied.
"I last personally met with Glenn Simpson much longer than a year ago," she wrote in November 2017. "I do not remember the exact date. According to my email archive - the emails I have found where Glenn Simpson was CCed on (though he did not react to it) the most recent email I found was dated July 17, 2016...."
Asked if she was aware that Simpson "had engaged an individual to investigate Donald Trump's ties to the Russian government," Veselnitskaya replied, "No."
"For the first time ever I had read about it in a letter by the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary [Chuck Grassley]," she said.
In his testimony, Donald Trump Jr. said he remembers Natalia Veselnitskaya being introduced at the Trump Tower meeting "as a lawyer," but no one claimed that she was a Russian government lawyer, the transcript shows.
“You've stated you have no recollection of Mr. Akhmetshin attending the meeting," attorney Patrick Davis told Trump Jr. "Were you aware at the time that Mr. Akhmetshin and Ms. Veselnitskaya were working with Fusion GPS?"
"I was not aware of that," Trump Jr. replied.
"Were you aware that Mr. Akhmetshin had a long relationship with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS?" the attorney asked Trump Jr. (Akhmetshin, a Russian-born lobbyist, in his testimony said he’s known Glenn Simpson's wife for years, and it was through her that he met Simpson.)
"I had never heard of Glenn Simpson or Fusion GPS. I was not aware of it," Trump Jr. said.
"So I assume, then, were you aware that employees and subcontractors of Fusion GPS were also working on opposition research on your father at the time?" the attorney asked.
Trump Jr. said he read about it later, "but I was not aware of it at the time."
"Were you aware that Fusion GPS was behind information presented to you regarding Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act?" the lawyer asked. (Browder lobbied for passage of the Magnitsky Act.)
"I was not," Trump Jr. said.
"Were you aware that Mr. Simpson from Fusion GPS had dined with Ms. Veselnitskaya the night before your meeting, had met with her the day of, and dined with her again the night after your meeting?" the lawyer asked.
"I was not," Trump responded.
Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya and her colleagues did not offer the Trump campaign anything, nor did they ask anything of the Trump campaign during the meeting that left Trump Jr. puzzled. He called the meeting a waste of time.