Donald Trump has sent out an encouraging message to his son, who had a harrowing day after releasing a chain of emails about his meeting with a Russian lawyer.
The US president tweeted that Donald Trump Jr was “a great person who loves our country!”
An email exchange posted to Twitter by Mr Trump Jr showed him conversing with a music publicist who wanted him to meet with a “Russian government attorney” who supposedly had dirt on Mrs Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump”.
The messages reveal that Mr Trump Jr was told the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Mrs Clinton and her dealings with Russia.
“I love it,” Mr Trump Jr said in one email response.
As the emails reverberated across the political world, Mr Trump Jr defended his actions in an interview with Fox News, blaming the decision to take the meeting on the “million miles per hour” pace of a presidential campaign and his suspicion that the lawyer might have information about “under-reported” scandals involving Mrs Clinton.
Mr Trump Jr said the meeting “really went nowhere” and that he never told his father about it because there was “nothing to tell”.
“In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” Mr Trump Jr said.
Democrats in Congress voiced outrage and insisted the messages showed clear collusion, with California Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, declaring that “all of the campaign’s previous denials obviously now have to be viewed in a different context”.
Yet Republicans – who stand the most to lose politically from Mr Trump’s Russia ordeal – did not join in the condemnation.
My son, Donald, will be interviewed by @seanhannity tonight at 10:00 P.M. He is a great person who loves our country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was confident Senate investigators would “get to the bottom of whatever happened”. And Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican on the intelligence committee, cautioned that the emails were “only part of the picture”.
Mr Trump Jr, who was deeply involved in his father’s presidential campaign, portrayed his decision to release the emails as an effort “to be totally transparent”. In fact, they had already been obtained by The New York Times.
Hours after the son posted the emails, the father rose to his defence.
“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the president said in a statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Although Ms Sanders declined to answer questions about the emails, she stood by the White House’s long-standing insistence that no-one in Trump’s campaign colluded to influence the election.
As congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigate, the emails will almost certainly be reviewed for any signs of coordination with the Kremlin, which the White House and Mr Trump Jr have repeatedly said did not take place.
In the emails – dated early June 2016, soon after Mr Trump secured the Republican nomination – music publicist Rob Goldstone wrote to Mr Trump Jr to connect him to Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Mr Goldstone wrote that the information “would be very useful to your father”.
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Mr Trump Jr replied in one of the emails.
Days later, Ms Veselnitskaya met with Mr Trump Jr on June 9 at Trump Tower in New York. Ms Veselnitskaya has denied ever working for the Russian government.