World

Trump insists son is 
innocent, slams 'witch hunt'

Kremlin denies link to Trump Jr's meeting with Russian lawyer

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump yesterday defended his eldest son as "innocent" following e-mails that showed Mr Donald Trump Jr welcomed Russian help against his father's rival in last year's presidential election.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump Jr released a series of e-mails 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.

Mr Trump Jr, in a Fox News television interview later Tuesday, said: "In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently."

The president, after releasing a statement on Tuesday calling his son "high-quality," yesterday praised the TV appearance and repeated his condemnation of investigations and media coverage of the Russia investigations.

"He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!" Mr Trump tweeted.

The e-mails offered the most concrete evidence to date that Trump campaign officials embraced Russian help to win the election, a subject that has cast a cloud over Mr Trump's presidency and spurred multiple investigations.

The US Justice Department and Congress are both investigating alleged Russian interference in the November election and any possible collusion with Mr Trump's campaign.

Moscow has denied meddling. Yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov questioned why Mr Trump Jr was blamed over the meeting.

Mr Trump has said his campaign did not collude with Russia. His son's correspondence does not seem to provide evidence of illegal activity but is likely to be scrutinised by investigators.

Legal experts said the president's son 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.

Mr Trump Jr pledged to cooperate with investigators, and claimed he did not tell his father about the meeting.

One of the president's personal lawyers, Mr Jay Sekulow, said yesterday that Mr Trump Jr's meeting was not a violation of the law and that the president was unaware of the meeting and the e-mails until recently.

Mr Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a top White House adviser, also attended the meeting, Mr Trump Jr told Fox News. - REUTERS

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