The Secret Service pointedly disavows involvement in Don Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting

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One of President Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, made the rounds on Sunday’s political talk shows to defend Donald Trump Jr. over his June 2016 meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and other Russians apparently promising information on Hillary Clinton that would help Trump Sr. win the presidential election. On ABC’s This Week, Sekulow suggested there was nothing “nefarious” about Trump Jr.’s meeting because of the Secret Service. “Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” he said. “The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”

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Unless Trump, the candidate, was at the meeting, too, the Secret Service would not have done any such thing, the Secret Service noted Sunday afternoon. “Donald Trump Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June 2016,” agency spokesman Mason Brayman said in a statement. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.” The meeting, at Trump Tower, also included Jared Kushner, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, publicist Rob Goldstone, and at least two other people.

Sekulow, on ABC and other networks, insisted that President Trump was unaware of the meeting; on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) was skeptical of that claim, telling Jake Tapper, “Frankly, it’s a little bit unbelievable that neither the son or the son-in-law ever shared that information with their dad, the candidate.” Also evidently skeptical of Sekulow’s assertions was Fox News host Chris Wallace, who grilled Trump’s lawyer on Fox News Sunday over who’s paying the president’s legal bills (Sekulow said he doesn’t know) and why seeking opposition research from a foreign power is not illegal (it isn’t, legally, a “thing of value,” Sekulow said):

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In the Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows President Trump with a 36 percent approval rating, respondents said by a 63 percent to 26 percent margin that it was inappropriate for Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort to meet with Veselnitskaya and the other Russians last June.



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