White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer as being 'about adoption' just hours after President Trump defended it as a legitimate exercise in gathering campaign dirt.
By stressing adoption, rather than promised incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, Spicer used an argument put forward by Trump Jr. more than a week ago, when key details about the meeting were not yet known to the public.
'There was nothing that – as far as we know – that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption and the Majinsky [ph] Act,' Spicer told reporters during an off-camera press briefing.
He was referring to the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law slapping sanctions on human rights violators that the Kremlin was anxious to roll back.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there was nothing 'that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption' and the Magnitsky Act when Donald Trump Jr. met with Russians in Trump Tower
The Kremlin put a halt to U.S. adoptions of Russian children in response to the law, which was itself enacted following the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison after exposing an alleged $230 million fraud.
Spicer's defense made no mention of a stated purpose for the meeting – and one that the president noted online Monday morning: gathering dirt on rival Hillary Clinton.
'Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics!' the president tweeted Monday. But Spicer appeared to be fighting on ground Trump Jr.'s allies had relinquished days aso.
Spicer said the meeting was about adoption and sanctions, although it was initially billed as being about potential dirt on Hillary Clinton
Rather than downplaying Hillary material as the purpose of the meeting, the president has argued that virtually any politician likewise would have attended a meeting with the promise of dirt on a rival.
When British music publicist Robert Goldstone first contacted Trump Jr. about the meeting, he explicitly mentioned 'information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia' and said it 'could be very useful to your father.'
His June 2016