The son of US president Donald Trump has insisted that his father knew nothing about a meeting with a Russian lawyer who allegedly said she had “compromising” information on Hillary Clinton that could help with Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
“There was nothing to tell,” Donald Trump Jr told Fox News late on Tuesday when asked if he had told his father anything about the meeting.
He added that meeting was a “wasted 20 minutes” and “in retrospect” he would have “done things a little different”.
The White House has maintained that President Trump only found out about the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russian Lawyer Natalia Vesernitskaya in the last few days.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump Jr released an email chain that shows him discussing plans to hear damaging information on Clinton, which was described as part of a Russian government effort to help Tump in the 2016 election.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information, but is part of Russia and its government support for Mr Trump,” read an email, dated June 3, 2016, from music publicist Rob Goldstone who helped arrange the meeting.
Trump Jr responded, saying “if it’s what you say, I love it”.
Here is page 4 (which did not post due to space constraints). http://pic.twitter.com/z1Xi4nr2gq
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
Trump Jr released the emails after a New York Times report revealed that he knew that the source of the “compromising” information being offered to him was the Russian government.
Versernityskya has said she was not working for the Russian government and never had information on Clinton.
On Tuesday, the US president released a statement calling his son a “high-quality person” and praising “his transparency”.
Trump’s son met Russian lawyer for Clinton information
But Democrats have been highly critical of the meeting, with some calling it proof that the Trump campaign “colluded” with the Kremlin.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign, said the emails are “very significant”.
“I think [the emails] made quite clear that the Russian government had possession of damaging information”, Adam Schiff told reporters on Tuesday.
Trump Jr has already said he is willing to work with the committee, which is expected to conduct its first interviews with Trump campaign officials this week.
Another senior member of the committee, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, said the emails show Trump’s campaign “sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America’s democracy”.
Wyden added that the “question is how far the coordination goes”.
While many Republicans have remained quiet on the subject, Senator Lindsey Graham called the emails “disturbing”.
“I don’t know what Mr. Trump’s version of the facts are. [He] definitely has to testify. That email is disturbing”, Graham told reporters on Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee requested information from the departments of state and homeland security about the Russian lawyer who met with the Trump campaign.
Allegations of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia have cast a shadow over the president’s first five months in office.
This week’s revelations come after President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the allegations of election meddling during the summit of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies in Hamburg, Germany.
The Kremlin has denied US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election in Trump’s favour, using such means as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies