Trump lawyer says noth­ing il­le­gal in son’s Rus­sia meet­ing

Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee wants to talk to ev­ery­one who at­tended

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s at­tor­ney in­sisted Sun­day there was noth­ing il­le­gal in the meet­ing Trump’s el­dest son had with a Rus­sian lawyer dur­ing last year’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Don­ald Trump Jr.’s will­ing­ness to meet with the lawyer in the ex­pec­ta­tion of re­ceiv­ing in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion about Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton has raised new ques­tions about pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia. The in­for­ma­tion had been de­scribed as “part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump.’’

The pres­i­dent’s at­tor­ney, Jay Seku­low, de­fended Trump and his son in a se­ries of ap­pear­ances Sun­day on five tele­vi­sion net­works.

“Noth­ing in that meet­ing that would have taken place, even if it was about the topic of an op­po­si­tion re­search pa­per from a Rus­sian lawyer, is il­le­gal or a vi­o­la­tion of the law,’’ Seku­low said on “Fox News Sun­day,’’ a point he re­peated sev­eral times. He said the pres­i­dent did not at­tend the meet­ing and was not aware of it.

The at­tor­ney’s fo­cus on the law ap­pears aimed at mov­ing be­yond the shift­ing ac­counts of the meet­ing given by Trump Jr. At first, the June 2016 meet­ing was said to be about a Rus­sian adop­tion pro­gram. Then, it was to hear in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton. Fi­nally, Trump Jr. was com­pelled to re­lease emails that re­vealed he had told an as­so­ciate that he would “love’’ Rus­sia’s help in ob­tain­ing in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion about the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee.

The num­ber of peo­ple known to be at the meet­ing also changed over time. As re­cently as Fri­day, Ri­nat Akhmetshin, a Rus­sian-Amer­i­can lob­by­ist and for­mer Soviet mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, con­firmed his par­tic­i­pa­tion to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said Sun­day that he wants ev­ery­one who at­tended the meet­ing to ap­pear be­fore his com­mit­tee, one of sev­eral in Congress in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and po­ten­tial co-or­di­na­tion with the Trump cam­paign.

In ad­di­tion to Trump Jr. oth­ers in the Trump Tower meet­ing in­cluded Trump’s sonin-law, Jared Kush­ner, and Paul Manafort, both of whom played ma­jor roles in the cam­paign.

“I want to hear from ev­ery­one in that meet­ing and get their ver­sion of the story, as well as I think we may find out there may have been other meet­ings as well. We don’t know that yet,’’ Warner, D-Va., said on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion.’’

Seku­low said he was not aware of any other meet­ings in­volv­ing Rus­sians. “I rep­re­sent the pres­i­dent of the United States, but Don­ald Trump Jr. said not in the con­text of for­mal meet­ings. He said he may have met with Rus­sian peo­ple, as a lot of peo­ple meet with Rus­sian peo­ple, so that’s not un­usual,’’ Seku­low said on CNN’s “State of the Union.’’

Trump him­self came to the de­fence of his son, who he said “is be­ing scorned by the Fake News Me­dia.’’ The pres­i­dent ended a se­ries of Sun­day morn­ing tweets by writ­ing: “With all of its phoney un­named sources & highly slanted & even fraud­u­lent re­port­ing, #Fake News is DIS­TORT­ING DEMOC­RACY in our coun­try!’’

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