The scramble to obfuscate the true nature of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting last summer with a Russian attorney with ties to the Kremlin is “ridiculous” and “an absurd lie,” former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Wednesday morning.
Trump Jr. met last summer with a Russian attorney whom he had been led to believe was in possession of negative information about Clinton sourced from the Russian government. Trump Jr. initially said that the subject of the meeting had been the adoption of Russian children by Americans but was later forced to concede that he had taken the meeting because he had been promised damaging information about his father’s general election opponent.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s another absurd lie to cover up what really was going on which I hope we finally uncover and understand,” Clinton told NBC’s “Today” show in her first live TV interview since last November’s election.
Trump Jr. has said that he gleaned no useful information from the meeting, which was also attended by President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law and a top White House adviser. The White House and those connected with the Trump campaign have insisted that there was no coordination between the president’s team and the Kremlin’s efforts to meddle in last year’s election.
Clinton, whose 2016 memoir “What Happened” was released Tuesday, stopped short in her book of outright accusing the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia, but lays out a series of connections that indicate that possibility. Asked outright on NBC if she believed Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Kremlin, she said “I can’t say that.”
“What I try to do in the book is to put forth all the information that I think should trouble Americans, whether you’re Republicans or Democrats or anything else,” she said. “We know that there was communication. That certainly has come out, and we know that there was a lot of interesting coincidences, if you will, between what people associated with Trump were saying at the time and what later came to pass.”
Even more than Russian interference into the 2016 election, Clinton said the determining factor in last year’s presidential race was the late-October letter from then-FBI Director James Comey to Congress in which he disclosed that the bureau was examining potentially new evidence related to its investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Similar to the argument she lays out in her book, the former Democratic nominee argues that Comey’s late-in-the-game letter “stopped my momentum” and “drove voters from me.”
“Look, absent that, I believe – and I think the evidence shows – I would have won,” the former secretary of state said. “Were there headwinds? Yes. Were there lots of other issues, and this whole interference by Russia is still an issue? Absolutely. But the role that he played, historically, was determinative.”