Donald Trump Jr. offered his side of the story in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday night about the meeting he had with a Russian lawyer during his father’s presidential campaign.
Trump Jr. reminded viewers that in June 2016, the time the meeting took place, Russia hysteria had not yet begun.
"This [was] pre-Russia fever. This [was] pre-Russia mania," he told Hannity. "I don’t think my sirens went [off] or my antenna went up at this time because it wasn’t the issue that it’s been made out to be over the last nine months, ten months."
And while he said it was “a nothing” and that he “wouldn’t even have remembered it” he admitted he “probably would have done things a little differently” if he could have.
"In retrospect, I know more now, but hindsight’s always 20-20," he said.
The interview constituted the first public statement by Donald Trump Jr. since he posted what he called "the entire email chain" of his conversations with music publicist Rob Goldstone setting up the June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya on Twitter.
In one of the messages, Goldstone told Trump Jr. that Russian officials were offering "some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton]" as part of "Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump."
Trump Jr.’s response email read, in part, "if it’s what you say I love it."
"I had been reading about scandals that people were probably underreporting for a long time, so maybe it was something that had to do with one of those things," Trump Jr. told Hannity when asked about his reaction to Goldstone’s email. "I didn’t know if there was any credibility, I didn’t know if there was anything behind it, I can’t vouch for the information. Someone sent me an email. I can’t help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly."
Trump Jr. posted the messages in the wake of a series of New York Times reports that revealed more details of the meeting with Veselnitskaya, which was also attended by Paul Manafort, Trump’s then-campaign manager, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. (Fox News)
Trump Jr. said he considered the meeting “opposition research.”
"They had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I’d been hearing about … so I think I wanted to hear it out. But really it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn’t what the meeting was about."
President Trump seemed pleased with his son’s explanation to Hannity, tweeting Wednesday morning, “My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017