U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he did not fault his son Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential election campaign and that he was unaware of the meeting until a few days ago.
Asked if he knew that his son was meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June last year, the president told Reuters in a White House interview: “No, that I didn’t know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this.”
(Transcript highlights: reut.rs/2sRVuHc)
Trump Jr. eagerly agreed to meet the woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow’s official support for his father’s campaign, according to emails the son released on Tuesday.
Seated at his Oval Office desk, Trump said he did not fault his son for holding the meeting, writing it off as a decision made in the heat of an upstart, non-traditional campaign.
“I think many people would have held that meeting,” Trump said.
“It was a 20-minute meeting, I guess, from what I’m hearing,” Trump said. “Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that.”
The emails were the most concrete evidence that Trump campaign officials might have been willing to accept Russian help to win the Nov. 8 election, a subject that has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency and prompted investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and Congress.