President Donald Trump has defended his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer, characterising it as standard campaign practice and maintaining that "nothing happened" as a result of the June 2016 sit-down.
The remarks in Paris during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron came even though Trump's own FBI pick has said the authorities should be alerted to requests for such meetings during a campaign and even after Donald Trump Jr said he would rethink his own conduct in agreeing to the gathering in the first place.
"I think from a practical standpoint most people would've taken that meeting. It's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent," Trump said.
Trump Jr released emails this week from 2016 in which he appeared eager to accept information from the Russian government that could have damaged Hillary Clinton's campaign. The emails were sent ahead of a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended.
Asked about the meeting on Thursday, Trump said "politics is not the nicest business in the world" and that it's standard for candidates to welcome negative information about an opponent. In this case, he added, "nothing happened from the meeting, zero happened from the meeting."
Trump's comments stood in contrast to the position of his nominee for FBI director, Christopher Wray, who at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday was asked what candidates should do if they're told a foreign government wants to help by offering damaging information about an opponent.
"Any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state or any non-state actor," Wray said, "is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know."
Trump Jr himself said in a Fox News interview Tuesday night that "in retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently."
The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley said he would call on Trump Jr to testify as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election and would subpoena him if necessary.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, says the panel has also requested documents from Donald Trump Jr.