Speaking at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Donald Trump defended his son’s choice to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer who had promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and said that the lawyer had been allowed to enter the United States by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“I have a son who is a great young man, he’s a fine person. He took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia. It lasted for a very short period, and nothing came of the meeting. I think it’s a meeting most people in politics probably would have taken,” Trump said at the press conference on July 13.
Trump pointed to the fact that it is common in politics to receive offers with information on political opponents.
“It’s called opposition research. … That’s very standard in politics—politics is not the nicest in the world, but it’s very standard,” he said.
“Nothing happened from the meeting, zero happened from the meeting. And honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.”
Questions have been raised about how Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya had been able to enter the United States after she had been denied a visa.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, pointed out in a letter on July 11 that Veselnitskaya was allowed into the United States in 2015 only after receiving a parole letter—having already been denied a visa—and that a request for an extension was denied in January 2016.
However, despite the request having been denied, she was able to enter the United States for the meeting with Trump Jr. at the Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016.
Trump said at the press conference that it was Lynch who had approved Veselnitskaya’s entry into the country.
“I was surprised to hear that. So, she was here because of Lynch,” he said.
In an exclusive report published on July 13, The Hill reported that it was Lynch who had granted her a special immigration parole.
“This revelation means it was the Obama Justice Department that enabled the newest and most intriguing figure in the Russia–Trump investigation to enter the country without a visa,” The Hill reported.
Lynch has come under fire after former FBI Director James Comey revealed under oath in a testimony before the Senate intelligence committee on June 8 that Lynch had asked him to refer to the criminal investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as a “matter,” which was more in line with the messaging of the Clinton campaign.
“The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me,” Comey said during his testimony.