Trump finally admits son met Russian lawyer; again blasts 'fake news
06 August 2018
US President Donald Trump admitted on Sunday that his son Donald Trump Jr met with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in 2016 "to get information on an opponent" but defended it as "totally legal."
This was Trump’s most definitive and clear public acknowledgment that his oldest son met with a Kremlin-aligned lawyer at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign to get information on Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival for the presidency.
As he has in the past, Trump insisted in a tweet that he did not know at the time about the meeting between Donald Jr and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with links to the Kremlin.
"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 wrote.
It is against the law for US campaigns to receive donations or items of value from foreigners, and that June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Natalia Veselnitskaya is now a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
While "collusion" is not mentioned in US criminal statutes, Mueller is investigating whether anyone associated with Trump coordinated with the Russians, which could result in criminal charges if they entered into a conspiracy to break the law, including through cyber hacking or interfering with the election.
"Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower," the president wrote in one of several early-morning tweets Sunday, many of which took aim at the news media.
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Trump has been brooding in private about whether his son unintentionally put himself in legal jeopardy by meeting with Veselnitskaya.
Donald Jr initially said in a statement to The New York Times in July 2017 that the meeting was "primarily" about American adoptions of Russian children. The Post has reported that the statement was dictated by the president.
Donald Jr later admitted he accepted the meeting with Veselnitskaya in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Clinton, but said nothing came of it.
Trump's lawyers argue that the meeting, in and of itself, violated no laws.
"The question is how will it be illegal? The real question here is, would ... the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law," Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said Sunday on a TV show.
The Trump Tower meeting also included Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, who is on trial over tax and bank fraud charges after being indicted by Mueller.
In addition to weighing in publicly on the Trump Tower meeting, the president also unleashed angry tweets directed at the news media Sunday morning from his 11-day working vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In one tweet, he declared the media the "Enemy of the People" and accused outlets of sowing division and distrust. "They can also cause War!" Trump wrote. "They are very dangerous & sick!"
In another, he expressed frustration with both the media and Mueller's probe. "Too bad a large portion of the Media refuses to report the lies and corruption having to do with the Rigged Witch Hunt - but that is why we call them FAKE NEWS!"