Three mysterious phone conversations between Donald Trump Jr. and blocked phone numbers before and right after his infamous June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Russians were not to his father, then-candidate Donald Trump, CNN and ABC News report, each citing three sources familiar with information obtained by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Democrats had wondered aloud if the phone calls were to or from candidate Trump's blocked phone number, which would suggest he knew about the meeting at the time. Instead, ABC News reports, the calls were with the phones of two family friends: NASCAR chief executive Brian France and real estate developer Howard Lorber. President Trump says he did not know about the meeting beforehand, and Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee he did not remember who he called but it wasn't his father.
The first two calls, on June 6, sandwiched a call from Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who helped set up the meeting between Trump Jr. plus Trump campaign leaders Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner and Russians who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. The third call was two hours after the meeting, which all parties say ended in disappointment. On June 7, Donald Trump teased "a major speech" the following week about "all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons." He never gave that speech.
France endorsed Trump during the primary and Trump said he has known him for more than 20 years. Lorber, ABC News notes, took a tour of Moscow with Trump in then 1990s, when Trump first started exploring real estate deals in Russia. A spokesman told ABC News that Lorber "does not recall having conversations with Donald Jr. in the summer of 2016, but in any event he has absolutely not had conversations with Donald Jr. about any Russian matters." Both Trumps touted the CNN and ABC News reports on Twitter.