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My colleagues may think it's OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that's OK. My colleagues might think it's OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president's son did not call the FBI. He did not adamantly refuse that foreign help.
No, instead that son said that he would love the help of the Russians. You might think it's OK that he took that meeting. You might think it's OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience in running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it's OK that the president's son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it's OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it's OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn't better.
You might think that's OK. You might think it's OK that when it was discovered a year later that they'd lied about that meeting and said it was about adoptions. You might think it's OK that the president is reported to have helped dictate that lie. You might think that's OK. I don't.
Now, I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the Special Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the Special Counsel, and I would accept his decision, and I do. He's a good and honourable man, and he is a good prosecutor.
But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK, and the day we do think that's OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way. And I will tell you one more thing that is apropos of the hearing today. I don't think it's OK that during a presidential campaign Mr Trump sought the Kremlin's help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune. According to Special Counsel, hundreds of millions of dollars.
I don't think it's OK that he concealed it from the public. I don't think that he advocated a new and more favourable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians' help, the Kremlin's help to make money. I don't think it's OK that his attorney lied to our committee. There is a different word for that than collusion, and it's called compromise. And that is the subject of our hearing today.
Mr Ambassador, you are recognised for opening statement.