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President’s lawyer: Nothing ‘nefarious’ in Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians

  • In this photo taken July 11, 2017, Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed by host Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel television program, in New York. A Russian-American lobbyist says he attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump's son, marking another shift in the account of a discussion that was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican's White House campaign. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) Richard Drew

  • In this July 11, 2017, photo, Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed by host Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel television program, in New York Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., posted a series of email messages to Twitter on Tuesday showing him eagerly accepting help from what was described to him as a Russian government effort to aid his father's campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) Richard Drew



Washington Post
Sunday, July 16, 2017

A senior member of President Donald Trump’s personal legal team said Sunday that there was nothing improper in the meeting that Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, took with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

“I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in?” Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for the president, said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. “The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”

The Secret Service, however, said those at the meeting would not have been vetted, because the president’s son was not under the agency’s protection at the time of the meeting.

“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016,” Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said in an email to Reuters. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”

Initially, Trump Jr. said the meeting focused on Russia’s moves to halt adoptions by American families, but he changed his story after details emerged. Emails released last week show that Trump Jr. believed he was meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with possible ties to the Kremlin, who would provide damaging information about Clinton as part of a broader effort to assist his father’s presidential campaign. He was joined at the meeting by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law; Paul Manafort, then a top campaign aide; and Rinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist and possible intelligence agent in the former Soviet Union.

Trump Jr. has said that nothing came of the discussion.

Sekulow reiterated that he has seen no indication that the president is under investigation by either the Special Counsel Robert Mueller or the House or Senate intelligence committees’ probes.

“We’ve had no notification from the special counsel,” Sekulow said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “Nothing’s changed since James Comey said three times to the president that he wasn’t under investigation.”

Sekulow put the responsibility for the initial incomplete response regarding last summer’s meeting squarely on the shoulders of the president’s son.

“The president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr.,” Sekulow said of Trump Jr.’s initial statement to the New York Times.

Sekulow also said that there was nothing illegal in the meeting with the Russian lawyer and a Russian American lobbyist.

“Here is the reality: The meeting in and of itself, of course, as I’ve said before, is not a violation of the law,” Sekulow said on This Week. He added that “the president was not aware of the meeting and did not participate in it.”