President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with top Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer was to get information on his opponent Hillary Clinton.
"Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. 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!" Trump tweeted.
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Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Veselnitskaya wanted the meeting so they could talk about lifting Russian adoptions and possibly lifting sanctions if Trump were to win the election, while Trump Jr. expected useful information against Clinton.
Trump Jr. has shifted his explanations for his Russian meeting. He initially denied he met with any Russians on behalf of the campaign and now he admits the meeting was to get damaging information about Clinton. There have been no reports that information about Clinton was offered or exchanged.
Jay Sekulow, the president's attorney, denied the president was involved in drafting Trump Jr.’s initial statement that the meeting was about Russian adoptions.
"I wasn’t involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the President," Sekulow said on July 12, 2017.
It was later reported that was false and the president was involved in constructing his son's misleading statement.
Trump has denied he had any prior knowledge of the meeting and repeated that claim on Sunday. The surprising claim in Trump's tweet is that it is legal for a campaign to get information from a foreign entity about a political opponent.
Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen has claimed Trump knew about the meeting ahead of time.
The meeting is of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.