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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Buried in the explosive BuzzFeed News report (Update: later disputed by the Mueller team) is a line that could threaten legal exposure for Donald Trump Jr.:

"And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project."

Why it matters: On Sept. 7, 2017, Don Jr. testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he knew "very little" about the deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow, and that he was only "peripherally aware" of it.

  • The BuzzFeed report contradicts that. It suggests Don Jr. lied to Congress — a charge to which Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty.

The big picture: Last August, The Washington Post reported that President Trump was "fearful" that his eldest son "inadvertently may have wandered into legal ­jeopardy."

Here's a guide to the known knowns surrounding Don Jr. and Russia:

  • We know that in 2008, Trump Jr. told a real-estate conference: "In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets."
  • We know that in May 2016, Trump Jr. dined at the same NRA event as Aleksander Torshin, the deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia. We know that Russian national Maria Butina has pleaded guilty to trying to infiltrate the NRA to promote Russian interests, and that Torshin was her manager.
  • We know that in June 2016, Trump Jr. met with a group of Russians, including a Kremlin-linked lawyer, at Trump Tower after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
  • We know that in March 2017, Trump Jr. told the New York Times: “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. ... But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment.”
  • We know that when told about the dirt and how it was "part of Russia and its government's support" for Trump, Trump Jr. responded: "[I]f it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."
  • We know that Trump Jr.'s explanations for the meeting shifted several times. First, he said he had the meeting because he was told it might yield "information helpful to the campaign," but that it ended up being "primarily" about adoptions. When confronted with more reporting, Trump Jr. issued a second statement saying he was promised compromising information about Clinton, but that none was provided.
  • We know that in August 2016, Trump Jr. met at Trump Tower with Republican donor Erik Prince, two Gulf emissaries and an Israeli social media specialist who pitched him on the idea of a social media manipulation effort to help elect his father.
  • We know that in his Senate testimony, Trump Jr. said that no foreign nationals besides Russians offered assistance to the Trump campaign.
  • We know that in October 2016, Trump Jr. exchanged Twitter DMs with WikiLeaks asking about the rumored release of hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
  • We know that in October 2016, Trump Jr. was paid at least $50,000 to give a speech at a pro-Russian think tank that has nominated Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize.

When asked for comment, a person close to the Trump Organization with knowledge of the matter said that the BuzzFeed story is “completely false and unsubstantiated and appears to be based primarily on information provided by Michael Cohen.”

  • Note: The BuzzFeed report claims the special counsel learned Trump directed Cohen to lie through "interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents," before having the allegation confirmed by Cohen himself.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.