President Donald Trump responded Tuesday afternoon to Donald Trump, Jr.’s release earlier Tuesday of the “Russia email” chain documenting the arrangement of a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016, on the understanding that she would provide damaging information on rival Hillary Clinton.
“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the president said, via a statement by Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
President Trump did not dispute that his son met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. She said she did not know the last time the president had spoken to his son. She also declined to answer further questions about whether the meeting between the lawyer and Donald Trump, Jr. constituted “collusion.”
Sanders indicated that the White House would not respond to further questions: “Beyond that, I’m going to have to refer anything on this matter to Don Jr. ‘s counsel and outside counsel.” Donald Trump, Jr., is not a federal employee.
The emails show a correspondence between Trump, Jr. and publicist Rob Goldstone in which Goldstone said that a Russian lawyer had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
Donald Trump, Jr. has said that the lawyer did not provide information and wanted to discuss a Russian ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children, which had been undertaken as a retaliatory measure against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. human rights measure targeting abuses by the Russian government.
Veselnitskaya told NBC News on Tuesday morning that she did not have links to the Kremlin and that she did not have information on Hillary Clinton to provide the Trump campaign.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.