Updated at 9:43 a.m. | President Donald Trump defended his eldest son Wednesday morning, declaring him “innocent” despite an email showing him enthusiastically welcoming campaign assistance he was told was straight from the Kremlin.
The president’s defense came in a morning tweet, and seemed largely a reaction to an interview Donald Trump Jr. conducted Tuesday night with Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity after he tweeted what he said is the full email exchange with a family business associate who was offering dirt on Hillary Clinton provided to other Trump associates by Russia’s top prosecutor.
“In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently,” the president’s son told Hannity about taking a meeting with a Russian lawyer he thought was about potentially damaging information on Clinton.
“I had been reading about scandals [involving Clinton] 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. said.
In the June 6 email exchange, Trump Jr. replied “I love it” when informed about the Kremlin’s offer to Trump family business associates to provide information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” a British-born entertainment publicist, Rob Goldstone, wrote in the exchange. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
The president’s initial response to his son’s releasing the emails before the New York Times could publish them was tepid. He deployed spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders to read a brief statement from him during her Tuesday White House press briefing: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”
He was more full-throated in his defense the next morning, perhaps proud of his son’s performance on the one medium he appears to adore more than twitter: cable news.
The president wrote that Trump Jr. “did a good job last night,” describing him as “open, transparent and innocent.” Trump then again labeled questions about whether his campaign colluded with Russia, which is being investigated by two congressional committees and the Justice Department, “the greatest Witch Hunt in political history.”
And, to Trump, that is just, as we wrote in one of his signature tweet sign-offs: “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
The president later tweeted an attack on his critics and the media, asking: "Why aren't the same standards placed on the Democrats. Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!"
The tweet is a reference to reports that a Ukrainian-American who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee during the campaign met with officials at the former Soviet bloc country's Washington embassy in search of data that might damage then-candidate Trump. White House aides and Trump surrogates in recent days have repeatedly referred to the embassy meeting.
Why aren't the same standards placed on the Democrats. Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017
Trump also lauded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for delaying the start of the chamber’s annual August recess by two weeks. McConnell wants the extra days to work on the fiscal 2018 Pentagon policy bill and clear more of Trump’s nominations for a list of still-vacant federal jobs.
But the president seemed to think senators will still be working on a health care overhaul bill during the first two weeks of August.
He retweeted a misleading “Fox & Friends” tweet that said: “Getting the job done! Sen. Mitch McConnell delays August recess to work on health care bill”.
But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, indicated he expects the chamber could vote on a revised version of the GOP leadership team’s revised health overhaul bill next week. Should it pass, it would amount to a big Trump legislative victory. And the hosts on the very “Fox & Friends” segment the morning show’s Twitter account was promoting even noted that, as well as McConnell’s intention to move to other priorities following a health bill vote.
It was the second time this week Trump has shared a misleading Fox tweet on his account.