WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump again cast as par-for-the-course the meeting his eldest son took with Russian contacts promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, tweeting on Monday, “That’s politics!”
He described it as a chance for Donald Trump Jr. to garner opposition research, but he did not mention Kremlin interests.
“Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr [sic] attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!” the president tweeted.
Trump Jr. last week released emails showing he met in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who an intermediary said had information that is “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Though the emails revealed Trump Jr. was offered “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday the only topics discussed were the American adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, the U.S. legislation punishing Kremlin officials for human rights violations.
It is common “for people who are given information during the heat of a campaign to ask what that is,” Spicer said. “That’s what, simply, he did.”
The spokesman added, “And there was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.”
Trump Jr. has said the meeting was brief and resulted in no compromising information or follow-up conversations. He said it occurred before “Russian fever.” The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.
Trump’s pick for FBI director, Christopher Wray, said last week he would encourage that dirt — or the promise of dirt — from a foreign government be reported to the FBI.
“Any threat or effort to interfere with our election from any nation state or any nonstate actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know,” he testified before a Senate panel.
Opinion: Meeting with a Russian is not a crimeProhibiting Americans from gathering and spreading information about candidates would strike a deadly blow not just to the free spirit of our election campaigns, but to the robustness of our democracy.
Spicer, like other White House officials, also sought to spotlight what Politico has reported was a Democratic National Committee operative’s meeting last year with Ukrainian officials for information on the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Spicer described the meeting as “the DNC’s collusion with the Ukrainian government.”
DNC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson did not respond to a request for comment, but she recently tweeted: “These allegations are false. Period.”
Also Monday, the president kicked off “Made in America Week,” celebrating 50 products produced in the 50 states with a White House showcase.
New York State was represented by Steinway & Sons pianos, one of which has long been in the White House’s Cross Hall.
“We want to build, create and grow more products in our country using American labor, American goods and American grit,” Trump said, renewing his pledge to rework trade deals and further deregulate to expand the domestic manufacturing base.
He did not say whether the approach would change the way business is conducted at his family’s brands.
The Trump Organization and Ivanka Trump’s eponymous company outsource much of the manufacturing of their apparel and other items to countries such as China.
Spicer declined to discuss those products in detail.
“It’s not appropriate for me to stand up here and comment about a business,” he told reporters. “ . . . But I can tell you that, in some cases, there are certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country.”