The White House has defended President Donald Trump's eldest son concerning a meeting in June 2016 with a Russian attorney, while a Democratic senator has alleged that the discussion is evidence collusion took place between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Donald Trump Jr., together with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, met June 9 with Natalia Veselnitskaya, according to the Daily Beast.
In a statement on the meeting, Trump Jr. said he was asked to meet Veselnitskaya by an acquaintance from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. He was informed that she "might have information helpful to the campaign," including that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee.
"No details or supporting information was provided or even offered," Trump Jr.'s statement added. "It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information."
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued July 9 that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the meeting, which was requested by the Russian attorney.
"This was standard operating procedure for the campaign," Conway explained, according to Politico. "Let's focus on what did not happen in that meeting: No information provided that was meaningful. No action taken."
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee involved in an ongoing investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, was more critical.
"This is the first time that the public has seen clear evidence of senior level members of the Trump campaign meeting with Russians to try to obtain information that might hurt the campaign of Hillary Clinton," Warner said, according to the Beast.
A source close to the committee noted that Trump Jr. would now likely become part of the investigation.
"Of course they'll ask Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr. about this," the source added. "Nothing is more central to the investigation."
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, added July 10 that the body would "want to question everyone that was at that meeting," Politico reported.
"Based on Donald Trump, Jr.'s own admissions, there was, at a minimum, an effort by the Trump campaign to have the Russians help Donald Trump get elected," Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, also on the SIC, told the Beast. "That's an attempt at collusion."
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma was more cautious in drawing conclusions about the meeting.
"This is the Russians reaching out through some of their third parties," he asserted, the Beast reported.
"We need to be able to find out how they were doing it and why they were doing it," Lankford added. "But just because a meeting occurred doesn't necessarily mean the campaigns cooperated together."