Just a few months before he joined the Justice Department as the attorney general's chief of staff, now-acting AG Matthew Whitaker defended Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with Russians at Trump Tower the year prior.
"What happened here is this lawyer used a pretext to get a meeting with, you know, some important campaign officials to really talk about the issue she wants to talk to which is getting rid of this U.S. policy regarding adoptions," Whitaker said in the July 2017 CNN clip recorded while he was still executive director of the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust, a conservative watchdog group.
He added that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya used the "B.S. excuse of saying she had opposition research" to lure Trump Jr., former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner to the infamous Trump Tower meeting in July 2016.
"We all agree it's ludicrous," Whitaker said of the Russian's promise of "dirt" on Clinton.
The man who is now the acting attorney general then claimed it is a "fact" that "Russians [were] funding the DNC and helping Hillary Clinton" and complained that "no one is advancing" the theory.
"Don Jr., when he heard that, certainly dismissed it quickly as based on what he said," Whitaker said of Trump Jr.'s response to an email about the topic of the meeting in which he claimed to "love" the prospect of getting damaging information on his father's opponent.
"You'd always take that meeting," Whitaker added.