One of President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys insisted Wednesday that a meeting last summer between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer promising incriminating information about Democrat Hillary Clinton was not illegal.
But attorney Jay Sekulow stopped short of saying that the president believed the meeting was appropriate, seeking to distance Trump from the meeting his son held last June, along with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and top adviser Jared Kushner.
“The meeting itself and what took place at the meeting doesn’t violate the law. The president was not aware of it,” Sekulow said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Donald Trump Jr. said in retrospect he would look at it differently today, but put yourself in the position they were in, in the middle of a campaign for the presidency of the United States and as you know, you have dozens of meetings every day.”
News that Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya regarding Clinton broke first on Saturday and was followed Tuesday by the publication of an email exchange between the president’s son and a Russian contact offering a meeting with Veselnitskaya, who had information from the Russian government that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
Trump Jr., according to the email exchange, replied in part that “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” The president’s son has insisted that he gained nothing from the meeting and in an interview Tuesday night with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, the president’s son said he "probably would have done things a little differently."
A spokeswoman for the president said Monday that Trump was only recently made aware of the meeting his son, Manafort and Kushner held with the Russian lawyer. The president himself has tweeted in support of his son, writing Wednesday morning that “my son Donald did a good job last night” in his interview with Hannity. “He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”
Sekulow, in his interview with “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos, reiterated the White House’s position that Trump did not know about the meeting until recently and said it was “inappropriate” for the media to tie the president to it.
“The president was not [made] aware of this, George, until very recently by his lawyers and did not see the e-mail [until] when we all saw it yesterday,” he said. “So to put this in the president’s lap I think is really inappropriate.”