On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus discussed a New York Times report that in June 2016 Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer linked with the Kremlin.
Priebus called it a developing story and said it might be a “big nothing burger, then warned it “may spin out of control for the DNC and the Democrats.”
Partial transcript as follows:
WALLACE: Right. Let’s start with the breaking news that in June of 2016, there was a previously undisclosed meeting, and let’s up all the players on the screen, Donald Trump, Jr., this was during the campaign, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort, met at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Why did they meet and why are we just learning about it?
PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, Chris, I don’t know much about it other than what I’ve communicated with various members there on the screen. It was a very short meeting. It was a meeting apparently about Russian adoption and after about 20 minutes, the meeting ended and that was the end of it. And as far as nondisclosure, look, Jared Kushner put in his disclosure a little prematurely. He has since amended it. All of that is disclosed, and it was a nothing meeting. And now, what’s developing from that meeting, if you look at the article that Circa put out, is that the individual that set up the meeting may have been affiliated with Fusion GPS, which is opposition research firm that is being subpoenaed and talk to by the Senate Judiciary Committee about their role in putting together that phony dossier that people know about in regard to the president.
So, this is a developing story. I don’t know much about it other than it seems to be on the end of the Trump individuals a big nothing burger but may spin out of control for the DNC and the Democrats.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about two aspects of that. In terms of the DNC, are you suggesting that this was somehow a set up by Democrats to try and link them or compromise them with the Russians? And this was before there was any Russian interference in the election. So, why would they have done that?
PRIEBUS: Well, look, why was Fusion GPS involved in putting together this dossier? I don’t know, Chris. And I don’t think too many people know why or how this meeting came about.
However, what I can tell you is in my communication with our team on the subject, there was nothing to it, it was a 20-minute meeting, it ended after everyone was decidedly sitting there saying there’s nothing happening here. They moved on. And I think, in the end, what you’re going to find in the story, if you read the Circa column because I think there’s more questions on the Democrat side than anywhere else.
WALLACE: And one last question about the meeting, why would Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort all want to meet with a Russian lawyer about Russian adoption?
PRIEBUS: I have no idea, Chris. You’re going to have to talk to them. However, you know, talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people, like adoption, is something that’s not unusual. So, when you go through a campaign, you’re not just talking to one particular group of people about in this case adoptions in Russia, you have policy teams talking about our place in Asia, talking about trade in China. You have policy teams that run the gamut. It’s not unusual.
WALLACE: The foreign policy meeting?
PRIEBUS: Apparently so.
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