Society

Trump Says He Was Unaware Of Son's Meeting

| by Jordan Smith

President Donald Trump has told reporters that he was not aware of his son's June 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney.

Donald Trump Jr. met June 9, 2016, with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York after being promised by a music publicist that the attorney had sensitive information about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Reuters reported.

Trump was asked during a July 12 White House interview whether he was informed of the gathering, which was also attended by Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

"No, that I didn't know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this," he responded, according to Reuters.

The president then maintained that Trump Jr. had done nothing wrong.

"I think many people would have held that meeting," he added.

News of the meeting has been taken by the Trump's critics as evidence Russia did assist his presidential election campaign.

The president insisted in the July 12 interview, however, that no such meddling took place. He referred to a discussion he'd had with Russian President Vladimir Putin about alleged Russian interference in the election on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.

"I said, did you do it? And he said no, I did not," said Trump. "Absolutely not. I then asked him a second time in a totally different way. He said absolutely not."

Criticism of Trump Jr.'s meeting has not just come from Democrats.

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said he was troubled by Trump Jr.'s meeting with Veselnitskaya.

"Someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say: From the time you saw 'Doctor Zhivago' until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single one of those, and we are going to turn them over to the special counsel," said Gowdy, according to The Hill.

Gowdy did not comment on whether he believed Trump Jr.'s meeting had been illegal, noting merely that the special counsel had the job of finding that out.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks -- which, during the 2016 presidential election campaign, played a major role in releasing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta -- stated that it was better to be transparent. He added that he contacted Trump Jr. hours before he released the emails related to the Veselnitskaya meeting in a bid to convince the president's son to publish them through WikiLeaks.

"I argued that his enemies have it -- so why not the public?" Assange wrote, according to the Guardian. "His enemies will just milk isolated phrases for weeks or months ... with their own context, spin and according to their own strategic timetable. Better to be transparent and have the full context ... but would have been safer for us to publish it anonymously sourced. By publishing it himself it is easier to submit as evidence."

Sources: Reuters, The Hill, Guardian / Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr, The White House/Flickr