WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Donald Trump Jr. has downplayed his now controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised him damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
In his first television interview since the news broke about the meeting, Trump Jr. insisted the meeting amounted to nothing.
“They had something, so I think I wanted to hear it out, but really, it went nowhere,” said Trump Jr. who appeared on Fox News where he insisted his meeting with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at Trump Tower last year during the election was “a wasted 20 minutes”.
The meeting set up because she promised dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. This is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press. For me, this was opposition research,” he said.
A month after the meeting, Trump Jr. attacked Democrats for suggesting that Russians were trying to help their campaign.
“It just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean they’ll say anything to be able to win this,” he said during a July 24th, 2016 interview on State of the Union. “I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie. It’s disgusting. It’s so phony.”
On Twitter Tuesday, Trump Junior released the entire email chain leading up to the meeting.
In the initial message music publicist, Rob Goldstone informed him that a Russian official had “very high level and sensitive information” about Clinton from “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
To which Don Junior replied, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
That dialogue that’s raising concern on both sides of the aisle.
“This is something, that’s the most problematic thing I’ve seen thus far,” said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC.
“This is moving into perjury, false statements and even into potential treason,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA.
The President released a statement calling his son a “high-quality person” while applauding his transparency. The President’s attorney insists Don Jr. did nothing wrong.
“I’m just trying to look at it as a lawyer and say what statute of law has been violated, what code section has been violated here and it doesn’t exist,” said Jay Sekulow.
Attorney Shannen Coffin, former General Counsel in the Bush administration, said Trump Jr. committed political malpractice, but so far nothing illegal.
“Sure, it seems like Donald Trump Jr. was willing to accept whatever help he could get to get his father elected, but there’s no evidence he was doing so through illegal means,” said Coffin.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his investigation into Russia meddling in the election, is expected to look into the emails and meeting.
Trump Jr, who says he will testify under oath if asked, insists he didn’t tell his father about the meeting because “there was nothing to tell”.