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Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer 'not illegal,' president's attorney says

July 12, 2017 - 7:55 am

(WASHINGTON) -- Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Trump, said the controversial meeting that took place last year between his son, other campaign associates and a Russian lawyer was "not illegal," while denying that the president himself had any involvement or prior knowledge of it.

"The meeting that took place is not illegal," Sekulow told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.

"The president was not at the meeting, was not aware of the meeting, did not participate in the meeting," he said.

When pressed further on whether Trump believed the meeting was appropriate, Sekulow said, "I haven't had the conversation with the president whether he thought it was appropriate or not. Here's what I will tell you: The meeting that took place is not illegal; these kind of meetings take place."

On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted four pages of what he said is an email exchange with publicist Rob Goldstone in June 2016. The messages appear to show Goldstone offering that the "crown prosecutor of Russia" could provide Trump Jr. with damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the heat of the 2016 presidential race. In response, Trump Jr. wrote, "I love it."

The emails preceded a meeting at Trump Tower in New York City with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, as well as then-campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

In an interview, Trump Jr. later expressed regret at how he handled the situation surrounding his meeting with the Russian lawyer last year.

In a statement Tuesday, Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya had "no information to provide."

The president has defended his eldest son, saying in a statement Tuesday, "My son is a high-quality person, and I applaud his transparency."

In the interview on Good Morning America on Wednesday morning, Sekulow reiterated that the president did not attend and wasn't even aware of the 20-minute meeting "until very recently" and he did not see the email chain until Tuesday when his son tweeted it. None of this, Sekulow said, is in violation of the law.

"The meeting itself and what took place at the meeting doesn't violate the law. The president was not aware of it. Donald Trump Jr. said in retrospect he would look at it differently today. But you've got to put yourself in the position they were in," Sekulow said. "They're in the middle of a campaign for the presidency of the United States."

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