President Donald Trump is defending his eldest son as "innocent" following emails that show Donald Trump Jr welcoming Russian help against his father's rival in the 2016 presidential election, deepening the controversy over purported Russian meddling.
Trump Jr released a series of emails on Tuesday that revealed he had eagerly agreed to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow's official support for his father.
Trump Jr, in a Fox News television interview on Tuesday, said: "In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently."
The president released a statement calling his son "high-quality" on Tuesday.
On Wednesday he tweeted of his son's interview:"He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!"
Christopher Wray, Trump's nominee to lead the FBI, told a US Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday he did not consider the investigation into Russian meddling to be a "witch hunt."
The emails offered the most concrete evidence to date that Trump campaign officials embraced an offer of Russian help to win the election, a subject that has cast a cloud over Trump's presidency and spurred multiple investigations.
The emails do not appear to provide evidence of illegal activity, but legal experts say Trump Jr could run into trouble if investigators find he aided a criminal action, such as hacking into Democratic computer networks, or violated campaign-finance laws by accepting gifts from foreign entities.
US intelligence agencies have concluded Moscow sought to help Trump win the election, in part by releasing private emails from Democratic Party officials.
Trump has said his campaign did not collude with Russia and Moscow has denied meddling.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was preposterous that Trump's eldest son was under attack for meeting the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
White House aides say the president keenly watches cable TV news, which he often mentions in his tweets. Trump denied that on Wednesday, saying the White House was focused on getting healthcare and tax reforms through Congress.
"The W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things. I have very little time for watching T.V.," Trump wrote on Twitter.