Donald Trump Jr meeting collusion claims 'ridiculous', President's son tells Fox News

Donald Trump Jr meeting collusion claims 'ridiculous', President's son tells Fox News

Donald Trump Jr meeting collusion claims 'ridiculous', President's son tells Fox News

Updated 12 July 2017, 15:25 AEST

Donald Trump Jr defends his meeting with a Russian lawyer alleged to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, saying claims it is evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Moscow meddling in election are "overplayed".

Donald Trump Jr has dismissed as as "ridiculous" charges that his June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer was evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Moscow.

Key points:

  • President's eldest son says it was a "nothing" meeting
  • Donald Trump says his son is a "great person who loves our country!"
  • Claims lawyer at centre of controversy was denied US visa six months before meeting

US President's Donald Trump's eldest son spoke to conservative news network Fox News Channel hours after he released an email chain in which he said he would "love" to receive damaging information about his father's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton from Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

In an interview with Trump supporter and presenter Sean Hannity, Mr Trump Jr said "he has probably met with other people from Russia" but insisted that he did not attempt to coordinate to impact the election or try to damage Mrs Clinton.

He repeatedly suggested claims he had colluded with Russian operatives in their alleged hacking of last year's US election as "ridiculous" and "overplayed" and insisted that his father knew nothing about the June 2016 meeting.

"It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell" his father, Mr Trump Jr said.

He said he barely remembered the meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya until details resurfaced in the New York Times over the weekend, describing the 13-month-old encounter as a wasted 20 minutes.

Mr Trump Jr, who worked in his father's campaign and now co-runs the Trump family business, said it was important to note the context of the time the meeting took place.

"This is pre-Russia mania, this is 13 months ago before the rest of the world was talking about that, trying to build up this narrative about Russia so I don't even think my sirens went up or the antennae went up," he said.

"In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.

"For me, this was opposition research."

Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort — who also attended the meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya — are included in sections of the email thread to set up the meeting.

Shortly after Mr Trump Jr tweeted a copy of his email correspondence related to the meeting, the White House released a statement from Mr Trump in support of his son.

"My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency," Mr Trump said.

The President later tweeted a promotion of the Fox News interview, adding "he is a great person who loves our country!"

Senate asks questions about lawyer's admission into US

Ms Veselnitskaya, the Russian who met with Mr Trump Jr, has said she was a private lawyer and has denied having Kremlin ties.

However, the US Senate Judiciary Committee has requested information from the departments of State and Homeland Security to ask how Ms Veselnitskaya was allowed to enter the United States.

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, said that according to court documents, she was denied a visa to stay past January 2016, six months before the New York meeting.

Moscow has denied any interference in the election and Mr Trump has said his campaign did not collude with Russia.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the matter, as are US congressional committees, including the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence panels.

AP