President Trump is continuing to defend his eldest son's controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer where he hoped to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of an effort by the Russian government to help Trump's campaign.
"I think many people would have held that meeting," Trump told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
The president first weighed in on Tuesday with a brief statement: "My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency." Trump Jr. only released email exchanges regarding the meeting after the New York Times, which originally broke the story, was about to publish the electronic messages.
The president's son has come under fire after he admitted to meeting with Kremlin-linked attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at the urging of publicist Rob Goldstone. In emails released Tuesday, Goldstone told Trump Jr. that Veselnitskaya had "very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Trump Jr. wrote back, "if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer." In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity Tuesday night, Trump Jr. admitted he "probably would have done things a little differently" but reiterated there was no information exchanged regarding Clinton at the meeting.
The president echoed what his son has maintained — that he didn't know about the June 9, 2016, meeting held at Trump Tower at the time, which was also attended by his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a White House senior adviser.
"No, that I didn't know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this," Trump told Reuters.
The Times also reported that President Trump personally signed off on his son's initial statement about the meeting published by the newspaper on Saturday. In that initial statement, Trump Jr. portrayed the meeting as an opportunity to talk about a Russian adoption program. Trump Jr. later put out an amended statement clarifying what happened and that the meeting had also been about Clinton.
The deepening story has come as multiple congressional committees and a Justice Department special counsel are investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between aides to the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump Jr.'s meeting, with emails explicitly outlining that the Russian government was aiming to help his father, arguably provide some of the most clear possible links yet.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment