A se­nior mem­ber

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GREG JAFFE

of President Trump’s per­sonal le­gal team said there was noth­ing im­proper in the meet­ing that Don­ald Trump Jr. took with a Rus­sian lawyer promis­ing dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton.

A se­nior mem­ber of President Trump’s per­sonal le­gal team said Sunday that there was noth­ing im­proper in the meet­ing that Don­ald Trump Jr., the president’s el­dest son, took with a Rus­sian lawyer promis­ing dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“Well, I won­der why the Se­cret Ser­vice, if this was ne­far­i­ous, why the Se­cret Ser­vice al­lowed these peo­ple in,” Jay Seku­low, a lawyer for the president, said on ABC’s “This Week With Ge­orge Stephanopou­los.” “The president had Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion at that point, and that raised a ques­tion with me.”

It’s highly un­likely that the Se­cret Ser­vice, which is charged with pro­tect­ing the president, his aides and his fam­ily from phys­i­cal harm, would have any in­flu­ence over who the president or his chil­dren chose to meet dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

A Se­cret Ser­vice spokes­woman cast doubt on Seku­low’s claims.

“Don­ald Trump Jr. was not un­der Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion in June 2016,” said Cathy Mil­hoan, the di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the pro­tec­tive agency.

The president, mean­while, took to Twit­ter, where he once again por­trayed the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tions as a me­dia fab­ri­ca­tion and turned his fire on his old Demo­cratic ri­val.

“Hil­lary Clin­ton can il­le­gally get the ques­tions to the De­bate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is be­ing scorned by the Fake News Me­dia?” Trump tweeted Sunday morn­ing.

The president’s tweets, how­ever, did not ad­dress his son’s mis­steps and ob­fus­ca­tions re­gard­ing the Rus­sia meet­ing, which have only served to feed sus­pi­cions.

Ini­tially, Trump Jr. said the meet­ing fo­cused on Rus­sia’s moves to halt adop­tions by American fam­i­lies, but he changed his story af­ter new de­tails emerged. Emails re­leased last week show that Trump Jr. be­lieved he was meet­ing with Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, a Rus­sian lawyer with pos­si­ble ties to the Krem­lin, who would pro­vide dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton as part of a Rus­sian broader ef­fort to as­sist his fa­ther’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He was joined at the meet­ing by Jared Kush­ner, Trump’s son-in-law; Paul Manafort, then a top cam­paign aide; and Ri­nat Akhmetshin, a lob­by­ist and pos­si­ble in­tel­li­gence agent in the for­mer Soviet Union.

Trump Jr. has said that noth­ing came of the dis­cus­sion.

Seku­low re­it­er­ated that he has seen no in­di­ca­tion that the president is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by ei­ther spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III or by the House or Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees. Seku­low is part of a le­gal team headed by New York at­tor­ney Marc E. Ka­sowitz, and the White House said last week that Trump was adding vet­eran Washington lawyer Ty Cobb to han­dle the White House re­sponse to Rus­siare­lated in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“We have had no no­ti­fi­ca­tion,” Seku­low said on CBS’s “Face the Na­tion. “Noth­ing has changed since James Comey said three times that he wasn’t un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Seku­low put the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ini­tial in­com­plete re­sponse re­gard­ing last sum­mer’s meet­ing squarely on the shoul­ders of the president’s son.

“The president was not in­volved in the draft­ing of the state­ment and did not is­sue the state­ment. It came from Don­ald Trump Jr.,” Seku­low said of the ini­tial state­ment to the New York Times.

Seku­low also said that there was noth­ing il­le­gal in the meet­ing with Ve­sel­nit­skaya and Akhmetshin.

“Here is the re­al­ity: The meet­ing in and of it­self, of course, as I’ve said be­fore, is not a vi­o­la­tion of the law,” Seku­low said on “This Week.” He added that “the president was not aware of the meet­ing and did not par­tic­i­pate in it.”

The lawyer’s re­sponse was rel­a­tively muted com­pared with that of the president, who said that the me­dia’s ob­ses­sion with the Rus­sia story was in­ter­fer­ing with his abil­ity to gov­ern.

“With all of its phony un­named sources & highly slanted & even fraud­u­lent re­port­ing, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOC­RACY in our coun­try!” Trump tweeted Sunday morn­ing.

SAUL LOEB/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE VIA GETTY IM­AGES

President Trump waves to spec­ta­tors at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump Na­tional Golf Course in Bed­min­ster, N.J. The president in a Twit­ter post de­fended his son Don­ald Trump Jr.’s meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer who promised neg­a­tive in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton.

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