Thursday, 13 July 2017
Donald Trump Jr admits he met Russian lawyer for "opposition research" but insists his father knew nothing about it
For a while now, the press have been accusing Donald Trump of having links to the Russians. These accusations resulted in investigations which revealed Donald Trump Jr met with a Russian-linked lawyer with the hopes of getting "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. New York Times reported of a chain of emails that shows Donald Jr set up meeting with the Russian lawyer. After the scandal broke out in the New York Times, President Trump's first son sat for an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity where he tried to explain his meeting with Russian-linked lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 9 last year. The interview comes hours after it was revealed special counsel Robert Mueller is keen on reviewing the president's son's emails.
Donald Trump Jr told Hannity, who is a supporter of his father, that he met the lawyer because he wanted to know if she had information or concrete evidence against Hillary Clinton. He said he had been reading about scandals on her which had gone under-reported for years and he wanted to find out if he could get information that had to do with those scandals.
He said: "In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently. Again this is before the Russia mania, this is before they were building this up in the press. 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. But really it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn't what the meeting was about."
He also admitted: "I've probably met with other people from Russia... not in the context of actual, a formalized meeting or anything like that."
Hannity then asked Donald Jr why he attended the meeting along with Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort. Donald Jr claimed Kushner left the meeting after "five to 10 minutes", and Manafort was "on his phone pretty much the whole time".
"Honestly, my take away when all of this was going on, is that someone has information on our opponent," he said, referring to Clinton.
Hannity went on to ask Donald Jr if he read the emails, reported on by the New York Times on Monday and then published by Trump Jr himself on Tuesday, between him and Robert Goldstone, the PR exec who put together the meeting between Donald Jr and the lawyer. He admitted he read them to see if there was interesting information there and said he has no control over who sends him emails. He also added that he was disappointed that the meeting did not give him the "dirt" he so desperately wanted on Hillary Clinton.
"I had been reading about scandals that people were probably underreporting for a long time so maybe it was something that had to do with one of those things," The 39-year-old said. "I mean this was her perhaps involvement with the Russian government…so, you know, again, I didn't know if there was any credibility, I didn't know if there was anything behind it, I can't vouch for the information…someone sent me an email. I can't help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly, and if there was something interesting there, I think that's pretty common."
When the story was first reported, Donald Jr denied meeting with the lawyer for information about Clinton. Having finally admitted to the meeting, he was quick to point out that his father President Donald Trump was not involved and he never told him about it.
He said as the interview came to an end: "No. It was just a nothing. There was nothing to tell... I mean, I wouldn’t haveeven remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame."
Below are screenshots of the emails exchanged between Donald Jr and Robert Goldstone to organise a meeting with the Russian lawyer. Donald Jr posted the email exchange online on Tuesday, along with an explanation after New York Times reported about it.