Trump admits son met Russian lawyer

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Washington — US President Donald Trump admitted Sunday that his son met with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in 2016 "to get information on an opponent" but defended it as "totally legal."

It was Trump's most direct acknowledgement that the motive for the June 2016 meeting was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival for the presidency.

As he has in the past, Trump insisted in a tweet that he did not know at the time about the meeting between his son Donald Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with links to the Kremlin.

"This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!"

The meeting has come under intense scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with a Russian effort to sway the 2016 election in the Republican's favor.

The president's tweet about the meeting was one in a thread in which he reiterated criticism of Mueller, calling his probe "the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country" peppered with "lies and corruption."

The Trump Tower meeting was arranged by British music promoter, Rob Goldstone, who told Donald Jr that he had "information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

Young Trump responded "I love it" when first offered the "dirt" on Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

News of the meeting, which Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and top campaign official Paul Manafort also attended, broke in July 2017.

Donald Jr initially said in a statement to The New York Times that the meeting was "primarily" about American adoptions of Russian children.

He later admitted he accepted the meeting with Veselnitskaya in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Clinton, but said nothing came of it.

Asked on Sunday why he had denied the president's involvement, one of Trump's lawyers Jay Sekulow told ABC that "I had bad information at that point." — AFP


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