President Donald Trump lied about the Russia lawyer with whom his son admittedly met during the 2016 election campaign.
The president, during a news conference in Paris with the French president, denied the lawyer’s association with the Russian government — a claim that’s disputed by the emails released Tuesday by his son.
“As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man,” Trump said. “He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer. It was a short meeting, it was a meeting that went very, very quickly — very fast. Two other people were in the room, I guess one of them left almost immediately, and the other one was not really focused on the meeting.”
The initial email seeking the June 9, 2016 meeting, set up by a Trump business associate, described Natalia Veselnitskaya as a “Russian government attorney” and makes clear the information about Hillary Clinton came from the Russian government.
The email’s subject line is “Russia-Clinton-private and confidential.”
“I do think this, I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting,” Trump said. “It’s called opposition research or even research into your opponent. I’ve had many people — I’ve only been in politics for two years, but I’ve had many people call up, (and say), ‘Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person or, frankly, Hillary.’ That’s very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information.”
Trump Jr. brought along brother-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort to the meeting, which was revealed Saturday by the New York Times, and the president reportedly signed off on his son’s initial statement on the meeting that turned out to be inaccurate.
“In the case of Don, he listened,” Trump said. “I guess they talked about, as I see it, they talked about adoption and some things. Adoption wasn’t even a part of the campaign, but nothing happened from the meeting. Zero happened from the meeting and, honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.”
He then tried to blame the Kremlin-connected lawyer’s presence in the U.S. on President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Now, the lawyer that went to the meeting, I see that she was in the halls of Congress,” Trump said. “Also, somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General (Loretta) Lynch. Now, maybe that’s wrong — I just heard that a little while ago. I was a little surprised to hear that, so she was here because of Lynch.”
“So again, I have a son who’s a great young man,” he added. “He’s a fine person, he took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia. It lasted for a very short period and nothing came of the meeting, and i think it’s a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.”