U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday defended the 2016 meeting his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., held with a Kremlin-linked lawyer to “get information” on his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying it was “totally legal and done all the time in politics.”
In his most definitive statement on the meeting at his Trump Tower campaign headquarters in New York, Trump said on Twitter that he did not know about the talks ahead of time that his son held with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and that the meeting “went nowhere.”
President Trump a year ago dictated a misleading statement about the meeting his son held with Veselnitskaya, saying it was about the adoption of Russian children. The younger Trump later acknowledged that the meeting was set up on the premise that the Trump campaign would get incriminating information about Clinton, saying in one email that he would “love it” to get the anti-Clinton material.
Trump called news accounts in recent days “a complete fabrication” that he was concerned about the legal liability his son could face for arranging the Trump Tower meeting.
Trump’s latest denial that he knew ahead of time about the meeting comes in the face of news accounts saying his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that he heard Trump’s son tell his father in advance about the meeting.
“Too bad a large portion of the Media refuses to report the lies and corruption having to do with the Rigged Witch Hunt — but that is why we call them FAKE NEWS!” Trump said.
Mueller is in the midst of a 15-month investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Trump campaign ties to Russia and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion with Russia or any other wrongdoing.
The term “collusion” is not mentioned in the U.S. legal code of criminal offenses, but Mueller is believed to be investigating whether anyone in the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian officials, which could result in criminal charges if they conspired to interfere with the election.
Trump railed again Sunday about Mueller’s probe, calling it “the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country. Fortunately, the facts are all coming out, and fast!”
In the midst of a working vacation at his Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey, Trump also unleashed a new barrage of attacks on the national news media, saying it was “very dangerous & sick!”
Trump’s latest offensive against stories he does not like about his 18-month presidency came hours after he rallied supporters in the Midwestern state of Ohio. He campaigned for a Republican candidate facing a tough race Tuesday for a seat in the House of Representatives, the last special election before the nationwide November 6 voting, when the entire 435-member House is being contested and a third of the 100-member Senate.
Republicans have held the seat in a suburban enclave just outside the Ohio capital of Columbus for three decades, but fear losing it could presage loss of their majority House bloc in the November voting.
“They’re talking about this blue wave,” Trump said referring to way Democrats are depicted on electoral maps. Shaking his head, he added, “I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”
Trump described the Republican candidate, state legislator Troy Balderson, as “really smart” and a “really hard worker,” while disparaging his Democratic opponent, local official Danny O’Connor, as a would-be pawn of national Democratic officials and “a low-level person that did nothing.”
On Sunday, Trump also defended tariffs he has imposed on imports into the U.S.
“Tariffs are working big time,” he tweeted. “Every country on earth wants to take wealth out of the U.S., always to our detriment. I say, as they come,Tax them. If they don’t want to be taxed, let them make or build the product in the U.S. In either event, it means jobs and great wealth.”
He claimed the tariffs would help pay down “large of the $21 Trillion in debt that has been accumulated” and “At minimum, we will make much better Trade Deals for our country.”