Hours after Donald Trump Jr. stunned the political world with emails about his meeting with a Russian lawyer he believed had damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the president's son said Tuesday he should have handled things differently, but denied any ill intent.
"In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently," the president's son told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "Again this is before the Russia mania, this is before they were building this up in the press."
The younger Trump also said he did not tell his father about his meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya because it turned out she didn't have information about Clinton and only wanted to talk about sanctions.
"It was just a nothing," Trump Jr. said. "There was nothing to tell."
Earlier in the day, Trump Jr. released email exchanges from June of 2016 with entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone, in which he appeared to welcome incriminating information about Clinton.
The emails confirmed that the president's oldest son understood Goldstone's claims that the information would come from Russian government, and was excited to take the meeting with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. At one one point, Trump told Goldstone: "if it's what you say I love it."
In his interview with Hannity, the younger Trump said he saw the offer only as "opposition research."
Trump Jr. said he thought the attorney might be able to shed some light on things he had long heard about Clinton. He told Hannity, "Someone sent me an email! I can’t help what someone sends me."
In a campaign where things were going "a million miles per hour," Trump Jr. said he did not think about the ramifications of possibly dealing with a foreign government about a domestic election. His antenna didn't go up because there wasn't yet an avalanche of media stories about Russian interference in the election, he said.
If the attorney had provided improper information to him, Trump Jr. said, "I would bring it to the proper authorities."
Members of congressional committees that are investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russians who hacked into the 2016 election say they want to talk to Trump Jr. about the Veselnitskaya meeting. The president's namesake may also be pulled into the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.
President Trump, his eldest son, and their supporters have denounced the investigations as Democratic-inspired witch hunts and said they had no dealings with Russian hackers.
Trump Jr. told Hannity he would cooperate with all of the investigations because "I just want the truth to get out there."
In addition to Trump Jr., the meeting in question also included Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Veselnitskaya told NBC News that she never had compromising information about Clinton, but that seemed to be the only thing the Trump officials were interested in.
Trump Jr. acknowledged that he was "probably pressing" for the information since it was the pretext of the meeting, but it didn't turn out to be useful. "I mean, I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff," he told Hannity. "It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame."
President Trump hyped his son's appearance on Fox News with a tweet earlier in the evening: "My son, Donald, will be interviewed by @seanhannity tonight at 10:00 P.M. He is a great person who loves our country!"
Hannity, who has loudly supported the Trump administration, said Trump Jr. went on the program "to set the record straight." The Fox News host used the segment to criticize news coverage of the Trump emails, and said journalists should pursue news reports that Democratic supporters of Clinton worked with Ukraine officials last year to try and "sabotage" the Trump campaign, which originally ran in January.
For his part, Trump Jr. called the media coverage "overplayed," and that "I think politics is a dirty game."
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