With Donald Trump Jr. facing heavy criticism Tuesday over recent revelations about his 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, the president’s son could probably have used an emphatic show of support from his father.
He didn’t get it.
“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” Trump said in a statement read by White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at an off-camera briefing.
Those 12 words came hours after Trump Jr. released copies of emails he’d exchanged with music publicist Rob Goldstone about a meeting with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in June 2016.
The short statement is the only public comment the president has made about the controversial meeting, which Trump Jr. attended along with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman.
In the released emails, Goldstone described Veselnitskaya as a “Russian government attorney.” Goldstone added that the purpose of the meeting would be to “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Goldstone said the opposition research was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. replied, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
Trump Jr. has maintained Veselnitskaya did not provide him with damaging information on Clinton, and they instead discussed U.S.-Russia adoption policy. In an NBC interview that aired early Tuesday, Veselnitskaya also denied being connected to the Russian government.
Still, many legal experts believe the correspondence between Trump Jr. and Goldstone provides the clearest evidence yet that Trump’s team violated campaign finance law, which prohibits soliciting, accepting or receiving contributions or donations from foreign nationals. The law covers anything of value, such as opposition research.
The emails are also likely to play into ongoing investigations looking at whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to sway the 2016 election.
In the face of these developments, the only defense Trump could mount for his son was that he’s a “high-quality person.”
To be fair, it’s the same praise Trump has given to a number of people and things, including his candidate for ambassador to Denmark, his wife, Melania, an assortment of other friends and acquaintances ...
... the people of Mexico ...
... and, of course, his now discontinued Macy’s line of suits, ties and shirts.