Trump, in France, Defends Son, Pulls Lynch Into Russian Meeting Controversy

(CN) – Speaking with reporters during his first joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his son’s meeting with a Russian claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton and sought to deflect blame to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“My son is a wonderful young man,” Trump began in answer to the inevitable question about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer claiming to have potentially damning information on Hillary Clinton at the height of the 2016 campaign.

“He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer. It was a short meeting. It was a meeting that went quickly, very fast,” the president said of the meeting.

He also went to pains to say the woman involved “was a Russian lawyer, not a Russian government lawyer.”

Trump then added,  “From a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting; it’s called opposition research.”

“I’ve had many people call up saying, ‘Oh gee we have info on this person, or frankly Hillary,'” he continued. “That’s very standard in politics.”

But the president went on to claim that he’s heard the lawyer’s visa was “approved by Attorney General (Loretta) Lynch.”

“Now maybe that’s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago. She was here because of Lynch,” Trump said.

Trump arrived in Paris early Thursday morning leaving behind a Washington still consumed by Donald Trump Jr’s  release of email exchanges in which he appeared eager to accept information from the Russian government that could have damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Back in Washington, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s sending a letter to Donald Trump Jr. to ask him to testify.

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he’d subpoena the president’s eldest son if necessary. The Iowa Republican says he wants Trump Jr. to appear “pretty soon,” and it could be as early as next week.

The panel is investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Grassley wouldn’t say what he wants to hear from the president’s eldest son, but said members aren’t restricted “from asking anything they want to ask.”

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