Wednesday 13 November 2019

Russia meeting was to 'get info,' says Trump

Vice President Mike Pence laughs as US President Donald Trump holds a baseball bat as they attend an event at the White House Photo: Reuters
Vice President Mike Pence laughs as US President Donald Trump holds a baseball bat as they attend an event at the White House Photo: Reuters

Nick Allen Washington

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter yesterday to further defend his son Donald Jr over a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the election camaping, saying that Mr Trump Jr took the meeting expecting "info on an opponent".

"Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent," Mr Trump wrote in his tweet. "That's politics!"

Donald Trump Jr attended a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the election campaign. Photo: AP
Donald Trump Jr attended a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the election campaign. Photo: AP

Just hours later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted that the meeting was about adoption policy for Russian children, despite emails Mr Trump Jr released showing that he expected to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton supplied by the Kremlin.

"There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption, the Magnitsky Act," Mr Spicer told reporters.

Mr Trump Jr issued public statements about the meeting shortly after it was revealed by the 'New York Times' in which he said he agreed to the meeting in hopes of receiving information to discredit Mrs Clinton and that he was told in the meeting the Russians had politically embarrassing evidence on her.

The meeting was attended by Mr Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who served as a top campaign adviser.

Before the meeting, Mr Trump Jr forwarded email correspondence about its planning to Mr Manafort and Mr Kushner with the subject line, "Re: Russia - Clinton - private and confidential."

Other facts also indicate that the meeting was arranged on the premise of providing political information rather than to discuss adoption or the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law imposing US sanctions against certain Russian officials.

In a news conference in Paris last week, Mr Trump said his son simply took a meeting that ended up not producing much valuable information or opposition research. Mr Trump said he only learned of the meeting recently.

Members of Congress have called on those who attended the meeting to testify before the House and Senate committees investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the US presidential election.

Yesterday a US court asked Mr Trump's staff to turn over records of visitors to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Mr Trump visited his private "Winter White House" seven times in February and May.

That led to a legal challenge from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) demanding to know who he had been meeting.

In response, a New York court has asked the Secret Service to turn over records of the people who visited Mr Trump.

Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has renewed his feud with Mr Trump and suggested there should be no "rolling out the red carpet" with a state visit for the US president.

Mr Khan told CNN: "State visits are different from a normal visit and at a time when the president of the USA has policies that many in our country disagree with, I am not sure it is appropriate for our government to roll out the red carpet."

British Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation of a state visit in January and it was accepted, but a source in Washington said no preliminary arrangements of any kind have been made.

Mr Khan added: "If someone has views that I think can be changed, I am ready to play my role. If you somehow think it is not possible to be a Muslim and a proud Westerner, I am happy to disabuse you of that idea, whether you are a reporter for CNN or Donald Trump."

Mr Khan previously vocally opposed Mr Trump's travel ban against people from a group of predominantly Muslim countries entering the US.

After the London Bridge terrorist attack, Mr Trump criticised Mr Khan for telling Londoners there was "no reason to be alarmed" by an increased police presence on the streets.

Elsewhere, the US government is allowing 15,000 additional visas for temporary seasonal workers to help American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm because of a shortage of such labour, the Department of Homeland Security said.

US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly found after consulting with Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta that there were not enough qualified and willing American workers available to perform temporary non-agricultural work, the department said in a statement. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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