President Donald Trump pushed back Wednesday at reports of White House disarray following the disclosure of emails that showed Donald Trump Jr. sought damaging information on Hillary Clinton that was offered as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for his father.
Last June, Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, in an effort to obtain that information. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, as well as former campaign manager Paul Manafort, were also present at the meeting.
“The W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “I have very little time for watching T.V.”
The tweet stands in contrast to multiple media reports that have painted the White House as being in damage-control mode following the bombshell revelations about Trump Jr.
West Wing aides have felt “blindsided” by news of Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya, Politico reported. Meanwhile, Trump “is using his relatively light schedule to watch TV and fume about the latest scandal,” the publication said.
The New York Times first reported Saturday on Trump Jr.’s meeting. Trump Jr. said it was a “short introductory” meeting,” and that they discussed a program about the adoption of RUssian children. He added that “it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”
But the next day, it was reported — and Trump Jr. confirmed — that he had accepted the meeting in an effort to obtain damaging information on Clinton. Trump Jr. said in a second statement that Veselnitskaya’s “statements were vague, ambiguous, and made no sense.” He said she had supplied “no meaningful information” about Clinton.
Perhaps the most damaging revelation came Monday and Tuesday. The Times reported that prior to the meeting, Trump Jr. was told in an email from Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who arranged the meeting, that the information had come as part of the Russian government’s support for Trump.
Trump Jr. wrote to Goldstone in the email thread, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The White House was further roped into the controversy when the Times reported on Tuesday that Trump himself had signed off on Trump Jr.’s initial statement about the meeting.
The news came on the heels of a statement released by Mark Corallo, the spokesman for Trump’s outside legal team, on Sunday. He told the Times that “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”