Trump defends son regarding Russia meeting, says "most people would've taken it"

Last Updated Jul 13, 2017 2:48 PM EDT

In Paris, President Trump defended his son, Donald Trump Jr., for setting up a meeting with a Russian government attorney in order to acquire damaging information about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

"As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man, he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government but a Russian lawyer, it was a short meeting it was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast," Mr. Trump said, during a joint press availability with French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday, ahead of the country's Bastille Day celebrations in the French capital.

"I do think this: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would've taken that meeting. It's called opposition research," Mr. Trump added, calling the setting up of a meeting to get compromising information "standard" practice.

"Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard where they have information, and you take the information."

He added that "nothing happened" in the meeting, and he slammed the press for "making a big deal" out of the story. 

Mr. Trump then seemed to place blame on Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the fact that Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had been allowed into the U.S. in the first place. 

"The lawyer that went to the meeting -- I saw that she was in the halls of Congress also," Mr. Trump said.  He added, "Somebody said her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch. Now, maybe that's wrong - I just heard that a little while ago. But, was a little surprised to hear that, she was here because of Lynch," said Mr. Trump.

Veselnitskaya attended a congressional hearing on U.S. policy toward Russia in June 2016, days after she met with Trump Jr., the New York Times reported. According to The Hill, the Obama Justice Department allowed her into the U.S. in 2015 without a visa. Lynch was attorney general at the time. 

The two acknowledged their differences on the Paris climate agreement, and Mr. Trump did not rule out changing his mind about his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement.

"Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord," Mr. Trump said. "We'll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, that'll be wonderful. And if it doesn't that'll be okay, too, but we'll see what happens."

Mr. Trump and Macron reaffirmed their countries' friendship and joint efforts in combatting terrorism as well as "providing a road map" to handling the Syrian crisis. The two will join their wives later Thursday evening for dinner at the Eiffel Tower. 

The meeting was the first since their encounter in Hamburg, Germany for the G-20 summit. When the two first met in Brussels in May, their long, firm handshake attracted a lot of attention.

See updates of Trump and Macron's statements below:


Leaders shake hands as the press event ends

Mr. Trump and Macron escort each other from the room with a pat on each other's back as Macron tells Mr. Trump, "Thank you my friend."

Trump on China's Xi

"He's a friend of mine," Mr. Trump says of Chinese President Xi Jin Ping, saying the two are now working on trade deals and further discussions on handling the North Korean crisis. 

"President Xi is a terrific guy,  I like being with him a lot and he's a very special person."

Trump to Macron "You better do a good job"

Macron says there is "no difference" or gap between the U.S. and France's position on countering terrorism. 

Trump alleges AG Lynch gave Russian lawyer visa

"The lawyer in the meting,  I saw she was in the halls of Congress," Mr. Trump claims.  He added, "Someone said her 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," said Mr. Trump

Trump defends Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting 

"My son is a wonderful young man, he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer it was a short meeting it was a meeting that went quickly, very fast," Mr. Trump said of Trump Jr.'s meeting. 

Mr. Trump added that "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," Mr. Trump noted, saying "that's very standard in politics." 

Trump on Paris Accord: "We'll see what happens"

"Something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord, we'll see what happens, but we'll talk about that over the coming period of time, if it happens that will be wonderful, if it doesn't that will be ok too," Mr. Trump alluded to possible developments in the agreement. 

Macron sidesteps disagreements on climate change with Trump

"Regarding climate, we have a number of disagreements due to the commitments taken by President Trump during the campaign, so did I, I'm aware of the high importance of that and we've talked about our disagreements," said Macron. 

Macron did say however they will help the U.S. continue on their road map on leaving and continue to talk about climate. 

Macron says their dinner Thursday evening will be one "between friends."

Trump: "Less bureaucracy, that's a good chant"

Mr. Trump applauds Macon's approach to limiting bureaucracy in government, saying the U.S. could more of it as well. 

Trump on terror threats

"We face new threats from rogue regimes like North Korea, Iran and Syria and the governments that finance and support them," said Mr. Trump. 

Acknowledging the one year anniversary since the deadly Bastille Day attacks in Nice, France, Mr. Trump calls the event "horrible."

Trump on France visit: "I will be there, that's a big day"

Mr. Trump thanks Macron for the warm welcome to his "beautiful" country. Reflecting on the Bastille Day celebrations, Mr. Trump says France and U.S.'s fates are tied together more so than ever. 

He calls the 100th anniversary of the American troops joining in the war a "big day."

Macron on Climate: "We know where our disagreements are"

"He will work upon on implementing his campaign promises and as far as I'm concerned, I'll remain attached to the Paris accord," Macron said delivering a slight jab in regards to Mr. Trump's pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Macon calls for road map for post-war Syria

Macron says the leaders agreed to put in place a "contact group" in order to be more efficient in its support of what is being done by the United Nations in Syria.

Macron thanks Trump for visit

Macron says he was pleased to welcome the U.S. delegation to Paris. "It is both as symbol and very important to have the president of the U.S. to be with us on our national day and attend a military parade to which the American troops will take part," Macron said of France's Bastille Day celebrations on Friday. 

The event will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American troops joining WWI with their allies in France. 

"Beyond daily news, we live in countries with roots that are deeper and go further and beyond who we are," added Macron.

During their bilateral meeting, Macron said, the two discussed a range of topics including trade, global security challenges and terorrism.

Macron said "from day one we have seen eye-to-eye" on combatting terror and vowed to tackling cyber criminality and online propaganda. 

Trump, Macron arrive to deliver statements

President Trump and his counterpart President Emmanuel  Macron arrive for their joint-press availability. The event was moved indoors last minute after the weather in Paris shifted. Earlier, Mr. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were greeted by Macron and his wife Brigitte before the leaders departed for the presidential palace for a bilateral meeting between the U.S. and French delegations. Following the events of the day, Mr. and Mrs. Trump will join the Macrons for dinner at the Eiffel Tower.