Veterans of several Republican presidential campaigns say they would never have taken a meeting like the one attended by Donald Trump Jr. last year in June, just weeks before his father officially became the GOP presidential nominee.
Trump Jr. said he met with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after she claimed to possess damaging information about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent. The president’s son added in a statement that he did not know the identity of Veselnitskaya prior to the meeting and that he asked then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, to attend but “told them nothing of the substance” about the get-together.
Trump Jr. and other White House allies on Monday defended the sit-down by attempting to characterize it as a normal campaign exercise ― as if every presidential campaign were willing to accept help from a nameless foreign agent.
“I’ve been involved in 9 presidential campaigns … never happened, never would happen for all kinds of reasons,” said GOP consultant John Weaver, who advised the White House bids by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Rick Tyler, a former top aide to the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz Texas, said he would have called the FBI if approached by a foreign agent from an adversarial nation like Russia.
“Senior presidential campaign officials don’t take meetings with nameless people. Doesn’t happen,” Tyler said.
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