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Trump Defends Son's Meeting With Russians as 'Totally Legal'

Trump Defends Son's Meeting With Russians as 'Totally Legal'

Sunday, 05 August 2018 12:23 PM

President Donald Trump repeated that he didn’t know about his son’s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, while asserting that such meetings are a routine part of politics -- “totally legal and done all the time.”

Trump has said similar things about the June 2016 meeting.

On July 27, Trump said on Twitter that “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr,” in response to reports that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was ready to tell authorities that Trump had known. “Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam,” Trump said of Cohen.

CNN reported that Cohen was prepared to tell federal investigators that the president knew ahead of time about the meeting, at which a Russian lawyer with links to the Kremlin was expected to deliver damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Such testimony by Cohen, a longtime fixer for Trump, would contradict the testimony and public denials of the president, his son, and other campaign officials who’ve repeatedly said the president wasn’t aware of the meeting until more than a year later.

The Trump Tower meeting was attended by the president’s son as well as Paul Manafort, then chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign; Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and several Russians, including the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and their representatives.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday less than an hour after the president tweeted, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said nobody had identified any law potentially violated by Trump’s son in participating in the meeting.

“The question is, how would it be illegal?” he said. ABC correspondent George Stephanopoulos noted that conspiracy to defraud the U.S. has been suggested as a possible charge.

Sekulow, who’s not representing Trump Jr., also said he had no knowledge of the president’s son being told he’s a target of the special counsel’s investigation, or whether he’s been interviewed by the special counsel.

In an ABC interview over a year ago, Sekulow denied that the president had played any role in drafting a statement about the nature of the meeting. Weeks later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had, in fact, weighed in “as any father would” to the document drafted on Air Force One as the president and his entourage flew back from a meeting in Germany.

Trump’s lawyers subsequently told Mueller’s office, in January, that the president had been involved. On Sunday, Sekulow said that “I got that one wrong,” referring to his original denial, and blamed having at the time only recently joined the president’s defense team.

On Sunday, the president’s attorney alluded to what he called “irregularities” in the special counsel’s investigation -- including the role of FBI agent Peter Strzok, who sent anti-Trump messages to another agent and was dismissed from Mueller’s team a year ago.

Sekulow said the president has the constitutional power to shut down the Mueller probe. He also said no decision has been made as to whether Trump would answer questions from Mueller but that a subpoena to do so could spark a court battle.

“A subpoena for live testimony has never been tested in court as to a president of the United States,” he said. Citing 32 witness interviews and the White House turning over 1.4 million documents, Sekulow asked, “Why is the president’s testimony needed here?”

Trump kept up the pressure on Mueller’s probe on Sunday, terming the investigation “the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country.”

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President Donald Trump repeated that he didn't know about his son's meeting with Russians at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, while asserting that such meetings are a routine part of politics -- "totally legal and done all the time."Trump has said similar...
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Sunday, 05 August 2018 12:23 PM
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