Feb 1, 2019

Reports: Don Jr.'s blocked phone calls before Russia meeting weren't to Trump

Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Senate Intelligence Committee has obtained phone records showing that President Trump was not one of the blocked numbers his son Donald Trump Jr. called before and after the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, CNN first reported and ABC News later confirmed.

The big picture: Trump Jr. made phone calls to two blocked numbers the same day he spoke with Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who helped set up a meeting three days later with a Kremlin-linked lawyer claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. He made another phone call to a private number several hours after the meeting. There has long been speculation that the calls were to his father, and that then-candidate Trump had advanced knowledge of the meeting — an allegation he has denied.

  • Three sources familiar with the calls tell ABC News that the blocked numbers belong to NASCAR CEO Brian France and real estate developer Howard Lorber, longtime Trump family friends who supported the president during the 2016 campaign. Lorber has extensive business dealings in Russia and brought Trump to Moscow in 1996 to explore real estate options, according to the Washington Post.

What we don't know: It's unclear why Trump Jr. made the phone calls and what was discussed during the three conversations, which lasted 11 minutes, 4 minutes and 3 minutes, respectively. It's also not known whether special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained the phone records.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,066,706 — Total deaths: 56,767 — Total recoveries: 223,697Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 258,214 — Total deaths: 6,605 — Total recoveries: 9,408Map.
  3. Business latest: Mark Cuban criticizes "arrogant" 3M on respirator production — The wartime mobilization effort to produce ventilators and medical supplies got started too late.
  4. Politics latest: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are worried about the difficulties of delivering the $2.2 trillion in stimulus aid.
  5. Jobs update: The U.S. lost 701,000 jobs in March, but the new report doesn't reflect the height of the virus' impact on the economy.
  6. World update: About half of the deaths worldwide are in Italy and Spain, with fatalities exponentially increasing across Europe.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Mark Cuban criticizes "arrogant" 3M on respirator production

Photo: Axios Events

Businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said during an Axios virtual event Friday that 3M is "arrogant" for not speaking up about respirator production in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

What he said: Cuban criticized the company for "making more globally than domestically," echoing a similar line from President Trump now that the U.S. is the epicenter of the pandemic. "You can't ghost the American people," he told Axios CEO Jim VandeHei from Dallas.

Coronavirus puts ambitious plans for self-driving cars on the shelf

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In two weeks, the coronavirus has brought the entire U.S. auto industry to a screeching halt. When it finally sputters back to life, many companies may be forced to change, defer — or even abandon — their ambitious plans for self-driving vehicles.

The big picture: Auto factories are shut down across North America to prevent the spread of the virus among workers, while stay-at-home orders have kept car shoppers away from showrooms. The resulting financial shock means carmakers have shifted their focus to survival, not investing in expensive technologies with no clear payoff.