Donald Trump defends son as Russian scandal engulfs family
THE US President has stepped in to defend his son as the scandal widens over Donald Trump Jr's meeting with a Russian operative.
Donald Jr has admitted to meeting with a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin after he received an email saying she had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Appearing on Fox News Tuesday night, the President's son said the meeting amounted to "nothing".
"It was literally a wasted 20 minutes, which is a shame," Donald Jr said.
The President took to Twitter Wednesday morning to praise his son's performance on the channel.
"My son Donald did a good job last night," Mr Trump tweeted.
"He was open, transparent and innocent.
"This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!"
Mr Trump has repeatedly referred to the investigations into Russian interference in the US election as a "witch hunt", arguing it is a politically motivated scheme to discredit his victory and justify Mrs Clinton's loss.
The President also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the journalists on Wednesday, as his war on the media continues to rage.
Donald Jr emphasised during the Fox News interview that his father knew nothing about the meeting, which was also attended by Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his then campaign director Paul Manafort.
"For me this was opposition research. They had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I'd been hearing about, probably under-reported for years not just during the campaign so I think I wanted to hear it out," Donald Jr said.
"But really it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn't what the meeting was about."
However, he added: "In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently."
The White House is in damage control as more and more details have leaked out this week about how the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower came about.
Donald Jr tweeted an email chain on Wednesday that revealed he was aware of a Russian government campaign to support Mr Trump's bid for president.
"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump," British entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Jr on June 3 to set up the meeting.
Mr Goldstone said his associates had information that "would incriminate" Mrs Clinton and "would be very useful to your father".
Donald Jr replied to the email four minutes later, expressing his delight at the prospect of information that would be harmful to his father's opponent.
"If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer," Donald Jr replied, referring to a time closer to the election when it would have been most politically beneficial to drop damaging information about the Democratic presidential candidate.
Along with Mr Trump, other sympathetic Republicans have praised Donald Jr for his "transparency" in publishing the email conversations.
However, The New York Times has revealed that Donald Jr released the emails on Twitter only after they had obtained them and notified him that they would be reporting on them.
Here's my statement and the full email chain pic.twitter.com/x050r5n5LQ— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
Here is page 4 (which did not post due to space constraints). pic.twitter.com/z1Xi4nr2gq— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
Donald Jr's explanation has also changed significantly since the weekend, when he initially told the Times that the meeting was a "short introductory meeting" concerned with the ban on Americans adopting Russian children.
He said in a later statement that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told him during the meeting that Russian individuals were improperly funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs Clinton.
"Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense," Donald Jr said in a statement to the Times on Sunday.
"No details or supporting information was provided or even offered.
"It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information."