Donald Trump, Jr.
Credit: Gage Skidmore\Flickr

If you’re familiar with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, you know he’s not a raging partisan or a bomb-thrower. I don’t think the Republicans in the Senate see him that way either and I suspect he has a lot of good relationships with folks on the other side of the aisle. So, when he says that he believes that Donald Trump Jr. perjured himself while being questioned by Senate Judiciary Committee staff investigators, he’s not playing a game of gotcha and I don’t think he will be perceived as trying to score political points.

His letter spells out his concerns, and they’re pretty basic. Trump Jr. denied that he was was aware of any foreign governments or foreign nationals offering help to his father’s campaign. That’s inconsistent with reporting that came out on May 19th in the New York Times. Apparently, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates very explicitly offered to help the Trump campaign, and they did so through a known pedophile named George Nader who is now cooperating with the Mueller investigator. Not only that, but the pitch came in meeting in Trump Tower that was chaired by Donald Trump Jr.

Now, Sen. Coons is being fairly restrained about this. He isn’t screaming “perjury” at the top of his lungs. He’s saying that the evidence suggests that Trump Jr. provided “false testimony” which is illegal under Section 18 U.S.C. § 1001 of the criminal code. He thinks that Chairman Chuck Grassley should invite Trump Jr. back to clarify his prior testimony, which seems like a pretty generous offer. Of course, Coons thinks this should be done in a public hearing rather than a private one conducted by staff.

Maybe Chairman Grassley won’t want to facilitate that kind of humiliation for the president’s son, but he should at least compel Trump Jr. to come back and to tell the truth about the outreach he received from George Nader on behalf of the Saudi and UAE governments.

This looks like a rather extreme case of lying to Congress, but as a general matter people frequently correct testimony they’ve made before Congress when they realize that something they said was not accurate. Trump Jr. can feign forgetfulness or confusion if he wants to explain why his testimony was false, and I’m certain the Republicans will not prosecute him over it. But Grassley should grant Sen. Coons’s request because Coons is right when he says that it’s fundamental to the integrity of the Judiciary Committee that it assure that the testimony it receives is truthful. Trump Jr. needs to correct the record and answer some follow-up questions.  Grassley should see to it that he does.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at