Donald Trump says son was 'transparent and innocent' over meeting controversy

Donald Trump Jr has insisted the meeting with a Russian lawyer was "literally just a wasted 20 minutes"

Donald Trump says son was 'transparent and innocent' over meeting controversy

Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed by host Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel television programme. Picture by: Richard Drew/AP/Press Association Images

Donald Trump has defended his eldest son amid a row over his meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign.

The President tweeted to say Donald Trump Jr had been "open, transparent and innocent" during an interview with Fox News, and hit out at what he called the "greatest witch hunt in political history".

Mr Trump Jr spoke to Russian Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 in the hope of unearthing compromising information on his father's then Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Speaking on Fox News, he insisted he did not tell his tycoon father about the meeting, and claimed his discussion with her was "literally just a wasted 20 minutes".

President Trump has now tweeted: 

He added: "Remember, when you hear the words "sources say" from the Fake Media, often times those sources are made up and do not exist."

When asked by presenter Sean Hannity whether he had briefed his father, Mr Trump Jr said: "No. It was just a nothing. There was nothing to tell."

However, the 39-year-old conceded: "In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.

"For me this was opposition research, they had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I'd been hearing about. So I think I wanted to hear it out. But it really went nowhere."

Meeting

Mr Trump Jr's meeting was arranged after he received an offer of "very high level and sensitive information" about Mrs Clinton.

In emails released by Mr Trump Jr himself, the intermediary, publicist Rob Goldstone, describes the offer of information as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump".

After screenshots of the communication were uploaded on Twitter, the President lauded his son as a "high-quality person" and praised his "transparency".

The White House has branded talk of perjury and treason over alleged links to Moscow as "ridiculous", adding the President is "frustrated" that Russia continues to be an issue and would love to move on.

During his Fox News interview, Mr Trump Jr appeared to suggest it was a "shame" that the meeting with Veselnitskaya amounted to nothing.

The talks had also been attended by the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chief at the time.

Alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia - along with Moscow's possible meddling in the US election - are currently the focus of a number of inquiries, including a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI chief.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said the emails show the Trump campaign "sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America's democracy", although Republicans have played down the revelations.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, called on Mr Trump Jr to hand over all documents related to contact with Russia.

Mr Trump Jr is also facing calls to appear before a congressional committee.