- President Donald Trump acknowledged in a tweet that the purpose of the controversial 2016 meeting at Trump Tower was to seek “information” on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
- Trump also dismissed reports that he fears for his son, Donald Trump Jr., in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
- On Saturday, multiple news reports cited sources close to Trump who suggested the president’s increasingly hostile rhetoric against US intelligence agencies signals his worry for Don. Jr.
President Donald Trump acknowledged that the controversial 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower between his surrogates and a Kremlin-linked attorney was to gather information on his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump also dismissed reports that he fears his son, Donald Trump Jr., is becoming entangled in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!” he added, referring to the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer involved in Mueller’s probe of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
Keeping calm and carrying on
Trump seemed to be responding to stories published the day before by CNN and the Washington Post that cited several anonymous sources close to the president who said his concerns over Trump Jr. have pushed him to issue more critical public statements attacking US intelligence and the media.
Several Republican lawmakers defended the investigation after Trump tweeted a call last week to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Russia probe.
Sen. Marco Rubio joined that defence Sunday on “Fox News Sunday”, saying the “best thing” for the administration and country is for the investigation to “run the course and for all the truth to come out.”
In his tweet, Trump confirmed the meeting was intended to gather information on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, which his administration has issued conflicting statements on in the past.
Trump’s acknowledgment raises new questions on the extent of Russia’s attempts to influence the election, including whether there were any legal or moral responsibilities for his campaign to notify authorities on offers of foreign assistance.
After reports of the meeting emerged last year, Trump Jr. released changing statements about its purpose, eventually acknowledging that Veselnitskaya had promised dirt on Clinton but that information was never delivered.
Most recently, Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen went against the administration’s past claims by reportedly saying he is willing to testify under oath that the president greenlit the meeting to get compromising information on Clinton.
Trump Jr. was one of three top Trump campaign officials, along with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, who met with the Russian lawyer and several other Kremlin-linked individuals at Trump Tower in June 2016.
Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s campaign, was in court last week as the first to face trial as part of Mueller’s investigation.
Mueller, as well as the congressional Russia investigations, is examining the meeting and Trump Jr.’s possible role in Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow questioned the meeting’s legal violations in a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday and attributed his past contradictory statements on the president’s knowledge of the meeting to “bad information.”
“I had bad information at that time and made a mistake in my statement,” Sekulow said of his initial denial of the president’s involvement in crafting a statement on behalf of Trump Jr about the meeting. “I’ve talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this … Over time, facts develop.”
Minutes after defending his son, Trump also tweeted to attack the media, the FBI, and the Department of Justice.
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