President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his son's decision to meet with a Russian lawyer who offered dirt on then-candidate Hillary Clinton last year.
"I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting," Trump said at a joint news conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron. "It's called opposition research."
The revelations that the younger Trump went to the meeting seeking damaging information on Clinton have put fresh scrutiny on the investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin. The president's son-in-law and current White House advisor Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting and were forwarded an email chain setting it up, according to the messages released by Trump Jr.
Taking so-called opposition research from people outside a political campaign is common. However, doing so under the pretext that the information comes from a foreign national is not a common practice.
Emails released this week by the younger Trump showed he accepted the meeting after he was offered "high level and sensitive information" that would "incriminate" Clinton as part of "Russia and its government's support" for his father's campaign. The lawyer he met, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was characterized as a "Russian government attorney," though she has denied connections to the Kremlin.