President Donald Trump offered a staunch defense of his eldest son Thursday, saying during a carefully worded response here that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer was a standard session that any political operative would have taken.
“My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer,” he said alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at the ornate Élysée Palace. “It was a short meeting. It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.”
According to the emails released by Trump Jr. this week, the lawyer — Natalia Veselnitskaya — was described to Trump’s son in an email as a “Russian government lawyer” with information that was part of the country’s effort to help elect his father.
Trump didn’t make any note of the contents of those emails Thursday during his uncharacteristically practiced answer. Instead, he acknowledged that politics can be a sometimes-unsavory business where damaging information changes hands often.
“I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting,” Trump said. “Politics isn’t the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard.”
Trump’s answer came after several days of swirling controversy over the meeting, which was first revealed last weekend. Trump’s visit to Paris acted as something of an interlude from the cloud, though he had clearly prepared himself to answer a question about the matter during his joint appearance with Macron.
His dismissal of the topic came the same day the Republican and Democratic chairmen of the Senate Judiciary committee requested Trump Jr. testify before their panel about the episode. And it came a day after his pick to become FBI director, Christopher Wray, told lawmakers the meeting should have raised red flags.