President Donald Trump has defended his son Donald Trump, Jr. over the rising din of criticism over his controversial meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The president took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to declare Donald Jr. “innocent” and praise his son’s interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, his first major televised appearance since the scandal broke.
“My son Donald did a good job last night,” President Trump tweeted. “He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”
He followed up by writing, “Remember, when you hear the words ‘sources say’ from the Fake Media, often times those sources are made up and do not exist.”
The New York Times reported July 8 that Donald Jr. had met with Veselnitskaya during the 2016 campaign, but the Russian attorney told the Times the meeting was about adoption policy – despite Donald Jr.’s claims.
Subsequent reports from the Times, revealed that Trump Jr. planned on meeting with Veslnitskaya because he believed she had compromising information about Hillary Clinton.
On Tuesday, Trump Jr. released the exchange of emails leading up to the meeting. The emails showed that he was promised “very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“My take away when all of this was going on, is that someone has information on our opponent,” Trump Jr. told Hannity of his reason for taking the meeting on Tuesday.
“You know what it’s like to be on a campaign. We just won Indiana, but we’re talking about a contested convention. Things are going a million miles per hour again and hey, wait a minute, I’ve hear about all these things, but maybe this is something, I should hear him out.”
Trump Jr. insisted, however, he never told his father, then on the cusp of officially becoming the Republican Presidential nominee, of the meeting.
“It was just a nothing. There was nothing to tell,” he told Hannity. “I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff.”
President Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday and said the president was not in any way involved in the meeting.
“The president wasn’t aware of the meeting, did not participate in the meeting, did not attend the meeting and was only made aware of the emails — actually reading the emails, seeing the emails was yesterday when they were released,” he said. “But very, very recently is when the lawyers, our legal team, briefed the president on this.”
Sekulow added that the meeting was “not illegal” and meetings of its kind take place all the time during campaigns.
“The meeting itself and what took place at the meeting doesn’t violate the law,” he said. “The president was not aware of it. Donald Trump Jr. said in retrospect he would look at it differently today, but you have to put yourself in the position they were in.”