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Trump Defends Son, Again Calls Russia Allegations 'Witch Hunt'


Donald Trump, Jr., (left) and his father, U.S. Donald Trump (file photo)

U.S. President Donald Trump called his son "open, transparent, and innocent" after the release of e-mails indicating the younger man had welcomed an alleged offer from Russia to help his father's 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump on July 12 also once again condemned media coverage and the various investigations into his campaign's alleged links to Russia as "the greatest Witch Hunt in political history."

Donald Trump Jr. on July 11 released a series of e-mails revealing he had quickly agreed to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who had damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow's "support" for his father's campaign.

The meeting -- which also included Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign head Paul Manafort -- was held three weeks after Trump secured enough delegates to win the Republican Party's nomination and about one month before the party's nominating convention.

Some members of Congress charged that the meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya, amounted to "collusion" with Russia.

Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon) said the e-mails show that Trump's son "sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America's democracy."

Trump Jr. called those allegations "ridiculous" and "overplayed."

In an interview with Fox News television late on July 11, Trump Jr. said the meeting did not yield anything useful to his father's campaign and that he never told his father about it.

He insisted he did not attempt to coordinate with the Russians to affect the election or try to damage Clinton.

He added, though, that "in retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently."

'A Very Nice Young Man'

After the interview, the president on Twitter praised his son's television appearance.

"He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!" Trump wrote.

Christopher Wray, Trump's nominee to head the FBI, told a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on July 12 that he had no reason to believe special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling was a "witch hunt."

In January, the U.S. intelligence community released a report that accused Moscow of waging a cyber-and-propaganda effort to interfere in the election to benefit Trump's campaign over Clinton.

Since that time, multiple congressional committees and the Justice Department have opened investigations into the question of Russian meddling.

Trump and Russian officials have repeatedly denied any collusion, and Moscow has denied any meddling.

Speaking in Brussels on July 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has "no doubt" that the accusations of Russian election meddling were "orchestrated in an attempt to reverse the results of the election won by Donald Trump."

Many Republicans in Congress on July 12 also downplayed the reports of the meeting between Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer.

"I think that's overblown," said veteran Senator Orrin Hatch (Reputlican-Utah), calling Trump Jr. "a very nice young man."

With reporting by AP, AFP, the New York Times, Reuters, TASS, and Fox News
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