Donald Trump Jr.: ‘I’d Been Reading About Scandals'; 'For Me, This Was Opposition Research'

By Susan Jones | July 12, 2017 | 6:30am EDT
President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., spoke to Sean Hannity about his meeting with a Russian attorney on Tuesday night, July 11, 2017. (Screen grab from Fox News)

( - When an acquaintance – a music publicist named Ron Goldstone -- asked Donald Trump Jr. to meet with a “Russian government attorney” who had information “that would incriminate Hillary…and be very useful” to his father, Donald Jr. agreed to do it.

On Tuesday night, hours after releasing the entire June 2016 email chain with Goldstone, Don Jr. went on Sean Hannity’s show to explain what he did and why:

“I’d been reading about scandals that people were probably under-reported for a long time. So maybe it was something that had to do with one of those things. I mean, this is her (Hillary Clinton), perhaps her involvement with the Russian government, you know.

“Again, I didn't know there was any credibility. I didn’t know if there was anything behind it. I can’t vouch for the information. Someone sent me an email. I can't help what someone sends me. I read it. I responded accordingly. And if there was something interesting there -- I think it's pretty common,” Don Jr. told Hannity.

He continued:

"This is pre-Russia fever. This is pre-Russia mania. This was 13 months before I think 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 antennas went up at the time, because it wasn’t the issue it’s been made out to be over the last nine months, ten months.”

Don Jr. told Hannity he didn’t know beforehand who he’d be meeting with. He also said the Russian lawyer’s description of the meeting – which she described to NBC on Tuesday morning – was fairly accurate.

“I mean, I was a little taken aback by her saying, you know, talking about me pressing for the information, but as you can see from the emails, the pretext of the meeting was, hey, we have information.” Don Jr. said he probably did press the Russian woman for information: “I was probably pressing because the pretext of the meeting was hey, I have information about your opponent,” he said.

Don Jr. said he shut the meeting down when it became clear the lawyer didn’t have opposition research and wanted to talk about other things instead. He agreed that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner walked out of the meeting within minutes, and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort spent much of the meeting on his cell phone.

Don Jr. also said “in retrospect,” he probably would do things “a little differently.”

“Again, this is before the Russia mania; this is before they were building it up in the press. For me, this was opposition research. They had something, or maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I'd been hearing about that were probably underreported for years, not just during the campaign. So I think I wanted to hear it out, but really -- it went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn’t what the meeting was about.”

Asked if he’s met with other people from Russia, Don Jr. said:  I don't even know. I have probably met with other people from Russia. Not in the context of actual -- a formalized meeting or anything like that, because why would I? You know, in the grand scheme of things, how busy we were, it was much more important than doing this. This was a courtesy to an acquaintance."

Don. Jr. said he will hand over any documents he’s asked to turn over. “I am more than happy to cooperate with everyone. I just want to get the truth to get out there.  And that's part of why I released all the stuff today. I wanted to get it all out there.

"They are trying to drag out the story, in all fairness, they want to drip a little bit today, drip little bit then, and so it’s like, here it is.  I am more than happy to be transparent about it and I’m more than happy to cooperate with everyone. “

Don Jr. said he never told his father about the meeting because “it was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell.” He called it a waste of his time.

And if the meeting resulted in information that “you felt in any way was illegal or compromising or collusion?” Hannity asked Don Jr. toward the end of the interview.

“I said it earlier, 100 percent -- I would bring it to the proper authorities," Don Jr. responded.

"There’s nothing that I would ever do to endanger this country. I think the reason we fought so hard during this campaign, whether it was my father and the work that he put into it – whether it was the rest of our family, and the efforts we put into it….is because We would do anything for this country. So we are never going to put that in jeopardy. Ever."

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