Ever since news broke that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer shortly after his father clinched the presidential nomination last year, the president’s allies have tried out a number of excuses to dismiss the importance of the sit-down. There have been so many of them over the past week that Slate’s Will Saletan even compiled them all, noting how “the excuses are even more damning than the emails.” Now there seems to be a new one to add to the list as President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer said that Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after he was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton was perfectly innocent because otherwise the Secret Service would have done something to stop it.
"I wonder why the Secret Service—if this was nefarious—why the Secret Service allowed these people in?" Sekulow said on ABC’s This Week. "The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me."
Sekulow made the Sunday talk show rounds and repeatedly said the president didn’t know about the meeting and his son didn’t break any laws by holding it in the first place. The lawyer also insisted Trump doesn’t know about any other meetings his campaign aides had with Russia. “Obviously the president has been very clear on that. He said he has had no meetings, was aware of no meetings with Russians, was not aware of this one until really right before it all broke. And that's what the president said. And in fact there's been no information to the contrary,” Sekulow said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Jay Sekulow says the president knows of no other meetings with members of his campaign and the Russians. pic.twitter.com/sh3G1KOa4g— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) July 16, 2017
Sekulow also said that Trump would be willing to testify under oath “if it came to that.” But he sees little chance of it happening. “Look, the president was very clear that if it came to that, and I don’t think it will, but if it came to that, he would do that,” Sekulow said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The president was very clear on that.”
Democrats immediately expressed skepticism at Sekulow’s insistence that Trump had no idea about the meeting. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union that it was “a little unbelievable” to think that “neither the son or the son-in-law ever shared that information with their dad, the candidate.” The way members of Trump’s team conveniently forget to mention Russia ties until the evidence is released means “the level of credibility from the senior levels of this administration really is suspect,” Warner added.
Sekulow’s suggestion that the Secret Service would have stopped Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer last year if there was something nefarious about it was immediately met by scorn online as many were quick to point out that’s not exactly the job of the agents. Even Frances Townsend, who advised former President George W. Bush on homeland security, joined in on the criticism, accusing Trump’s lawyer of throwing Secret Service agents “under the bus.”
Previous spin: We didn't know who they were until they got to the meeting.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) July 16, 2017
New spin: They were vetted by our Secret Service detail. https://t.co/4Awr4gGeJx
Politicizing Secret Service on this is just so gross. SS is there to keep people safe, not prevent scandal. https://t.co/iOeWNF3K0v— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) July 16, 2017
The Secret Service also didn't stop Reagan from selling weapons to Iran to fund Contra war! We need to fix the Secret Service!— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) July 16, 2017
Antagonizing the Secret Service seems like a smart move. What could they possibly have to leak about Trump? https://t.co/Ceq89Qp4JY— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) July 16, 2017