US president Donald Trump has defended his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, saying it was standard campaign practice and maintaining “nothing happened” as a result.
The remarks in Paris, made in a joint news conference with French president Emmanuel Macron, came even though Mr Trump’s own FBI pick said a day earlier that authorities should be advised of requests to meet with foreign individuals during a campaign.
Donald Trump Jr also said he would rethink his own conduct in agreeing to the meeting in the first place.
“I think from a practical standpoint most people would’ve taken that meeting. It’s called opposition research, or even research into your opponent,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump Jr released emails this week from 2016 in which he appeared eager to accept information from the Russian government that could have damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The emails were sent ahead of a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended.
Asked about the meeting, Mr Trump said “politics is not the nicest business in the world” and it is standard for candidates to welcome negative information about an opponent.
In this case, he added, “nothing happened from the meeting, zero happened from the meeting”.
Mr Trump’s support for the encounter stood in contrast to the position of his nominee for FBI director, Christopher Wray.
At his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, he was asked what candidates should do if told a foreign government wants to help by offering damaging information about an opponent.
“Any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state or any non-state actor,” Mr Wray said, “is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”
Mr Trump Jr said in a Fox News interview on Tuesday night that “in retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently”.
Meanwhile, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he would call on Mr Trump Jr to testify as part of investigations into Russian meddling in last year’s election and subpoena him if necessary.
Senator Chuck Grassley said he wants Mr Trump Jr to testify “pretty soon” and it could be as early as next week.
He said members are not restricted “from asking anything they want to ask”.
The Judiciary Committee is one of several congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the US election, along with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
US intelligence agencies have accused the Russian government of meddling through hacking in last year’s election to benefit Mr Trump and harm Mrs Clinton.
Authorities are exploring potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
The June 9 meeting involved a lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was described to Mr Trump Jr as a “Russian government lawyer” who had incriminating information on Mrs Clinton.