Trump defends son’s meeting Russian lawyer, says ‘most people’ would have done same
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Trump defends son’s meeting Russian lawyer, says ‘most people’ would have done same

The US president said Donald Trump Jr had merely been responding to a person offering opposition research on Hillary Clinton, adding that politics was not the “nicest business”.

world Updated: Jul 14, 2017 16:30 IST
US President Donald Trump,President Emmanuel Macron,Hillary Clinton
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump stand in front of the American flag at the end of the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 14, 2017.(REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his eldest son’s decision in June last year to meet with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer during the election campaign, saying “most people would have taken that meeting” and “nothing happened from the meeting”.

“My son is wonderful young man,” Trump said during a news conference in Paris with President Emmanuel Macron. “He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Not a government lawyer; a Russian lawyer.”

Trump came to Paris at the invitation of Macron to take part in Bastille Day celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.

As the two leaders, an odd couple on the international stage, faced the news media after a private meeting in the Élysée Palace, they sought to play down sharp differences over trade, immigration and climate change. Macron looked on as Trump defended his son in the scandal over possible links between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Trump said Donald Trump Jr. had merely been responding to a person offering opposition research on his opponent, Hillary Clinton — a common practice in presidential campaigns. “Politics is not the nicest business,” he said, noting that he had received similar offers.

Trump tried to deflect attention from his son by asserting that President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, had approved a visa for the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to enter the United States.

Veselnitskaya did receive a waiver from the justice department in October 2015 to enter the United States to defend a Russian client involved in a criminal case in New York. Immigration lawyers said the waiver, known as a “significant public benefit parole,” is standard practice in such cases.

On climate change, Trump acknowledged his differences with Macron — highlighted when Trump announced six weeks ago that he would withdraw the United States from of the Paris climate accord. When asked whether he would reconsider his decision, the president left the door open to some kind of unspecified compromise.

“Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens.” He added, “If it happens, it will be wonderful; if it doesn’t, that will be OK, too.”

Macron also acknowledged the disagreement over the climate accord, but noted that the two leaders had agreed on many other issues. He also said he understood Trump’s motivation in withdrawing, even if he disagreed with him. “My willingness is to continue to work with the United States,” he said. “I understand it is important to save jobs.”

First Published: Jul 14, 2017 16:30 IST