The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday came under fire from legislators who accused it of failing to curtail Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, ahead of Congress’ planned investigation into the matter.
Donald Trump Jr. emails released on Monday show that he eagerly accepted a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 because he was told she had information that would “incriminate” his father’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Emails also showed that Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, attended.
Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said they would propose legislation to create a special counsel, to lead the federal investigations into Russian interference in the election. The trio cited Mr. Trump’s interference in efforts to identify the leaker who began publishing classified intelligence information on March 4.
“How many high-level security leaks are there?” Mr. Sasse asked on “Fox & Friends.” “The list keeps getting longer. What do we need? We need a Special Counsel, who is the ultimate guardian of our sovereignty.”
“If you don’t ask the right questions when you get campaign meetings with Russian people, it raises suspicions,” Sen. Rubio told Fox News. “And sometimes suspicions turn out to be true, at least in some cases.”
Mr. Trump said Sunday he would not have attended the meeting if he knew that it was not to be about the adoption of Russian children.
“If I thought it would be hurting our campaign, I would have to say, ‘Look, I don’t want to do that,’” Mr. Trump said. “I think it’s a disgrace that you even even ask that question.”
The president said he was convinced the meeting with Moscow’s “most talented lawyer” was about adoptions, but some legal experts have questioned whether such meetings can be described as “lawyers” meeting.
“In the innocence of that moment, I did not know that was the purpose of the meeting,” Mr. Trump said.
“I thought it was about adoption,” he said. “I thought it was about Russian adoptions. . . . I look back on that meeting and I say this in retrospect very differently than I did at the time.”