On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News talk show after a day filled with developments regarding the reported dealings between the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer with information from that country’s government, during the 2016 election season.
Earlier in the week, The New York Times reported that Trump Jr. agreed to a meeting with an attorney with ties to the Russian government in June 2016, to receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, Trump shared an email thread on his Twitter account soon after the Times reported it received the emails.
During his interview with Hannity on Tuesday evening, Trump Jr. pursued the line of defense that he had begun earlier in the day: that seeking out opposition research is normal campaign behavior, that his inexperience caused him to misunderstand how people might react to the meeting, that he left the meeting with no information on Clinton, and that he didn’t tell his father about the event.
Trump Jr. said he has a “casual relationship” with Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who initially reached out to him about the information by email and facilitated a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer.
Trump Jr. said that Goldstone’s message seemed normal: “People are trying to reach out to you all the time with this.” He continued, “I’m still way in the learning curve for all of this.”
“If there’s information out there, you want it,” Trump Jr. said. “Sometimes you do things different for acquaintances and for friends,” he said about meeting with the Veselnitskaya, adding, “we didn’t know who she was before the meeting, apparently she was a prosecutor in Moscow but she hasn’t done that since 2002.”
When asked if it seemed strange that someone with information from a foreign adversary would be reaching out to help his father’s campaign, Trump Jr. said, “I don’t even think my sirens went up.” He added: “This was before Russia mania.”
“In retrospect, I probably would’ve done things a little differently,” he told Hannity.
Trump Jr. insisted that the meeting “went nowhere” and that “it was literally just a waste of 20 minutes, which was a shame.”
He said that if he had been offered conditional assistance — information on Clinton in return for the promise of favors for the Russians — he would have refused it, because “there’s nothing I would ever do to damage this country.”
On Monday, The New York Times had released a story revealing that Russian officials had offered Trump Jr. damaging information on Hillary Clinton and that Trump Jr. had proceeded to set up the meeting about it for June 9, 2016.
Early Tuesday, Trump Jr. tweeted, “Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”
A few hours later, after being informed by the Times that the newspaper had access to his entire email thread with the Russian official, Trump Jr. decided to release the emails on Twitter. In the thread, Trump Jr. responded to the offer of damaging information by writing, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
President Trump released a one-sentence statement: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”
He followed it up with a tweet advertising his son’s appearance on Sean Hannity’s show: “My son, Donald, will be interviewed by @seanhannity tonight at 10:00 P.M. He is a great person who loves our country!”