President Donald Trump reiterated his defense of his son Donald Trump Jr. on Thursday, amid continuing fallout over the news that the younger Trump met with a Russian lawyer last year after he was promised damaging information about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The president claimed the meeting was completely acceptable. “I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It’s called opposition research,” Trump said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
“I’ve had many people ― I’ve only been in politics for two years. I’ve had many people call up, ‘Oh, gee, we have information on this factor, or this person, or frankly Hillary.’ That’s very standard in politics,” Trump continued. “Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information, and you take the information. In the case of Don, he listened.”
“But nothing happened from the meeting,” Trump added. “Zero happened from the meeting, and honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.”
The younger Trump’s meeting in June 2016 is the clearest indication yet that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia to influence last year’s election, a possibility that is the subject of multiple investigations.
Despite Trump’s insistence that the meeting was routine, many experts believe it violated campaign finance laws that make it illegal to solicit, accept or receive contributions and donations from foreign nationals. This could include political opposition research.
Earlier this week, Republican political operatives told HuffPost that it would be unheard of to take such a meeting.
Trump was initially silent on the matter, while his son released a series of changing statements responding to The New York Times, which first reported on the meeting last weekend.
Trump Jr. released emails confirming the details of the meeting on Tuesday.
Trump also blamed former Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Thursday, apparently referring to The Hill’s report on Lynch approving a temporary visa for the Russian lawyer Trump Jr. met with to come to the United States.
The president appeared to ignore a question about Russian interference in the 2016 election, an idea he has dismissed despite U.S. intelligence officials concluding that it occurred.