Trump Jr. said he regrets meeting the Russian lawyer — because it wasted his time


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Donald Trump Jr. says that his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about his father’s rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton amounted to “nothing … literally just a wasted 20 minutes.”

In an interview aired late Tuesday by broadcaster Fox News, Trump Jr. conceded that the meeting was a mistake.

He earlier released the emails he exchanged in June 2016 with an intermediary who offered documents that would allegedly incriminate Hillary Clinton in her dealings with Russia.

“In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr. told Fox.

He said it rapidly became clear that the meeting was a “bait and switch” to talk about the U.S. human-rights legislation that imposed sanctions on Russians officials, and adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. families, which was banned by Moscow in the wake of the 2012 U.S. law.

The email exchange showed intermediary Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, offering Donald Trump Jr. “some official documents and information” against Clinton that “would be very useful to your father.”

The emails did not elaborate on purported information about Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state who unexpectedly lost the November election to the elder Trump. But the initial email from Goldstone said the source of the documents was Russian justice officials.

“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information, but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump,” Goldstone wrote.

Trump Jr’s response came within minutes, the email exchange shows.

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. wrote, thanking Goldstone for the offer.

The email exchange shows that the meeting was eventually set up to take place on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower.

In addition to Trump Jr., the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was attended by Paul Manafort, Trump’s then-campaign manager, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

The email exchange shows for the first time that some members of the Trump campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

Trump Jr. said in a statement that he released the emails in an effort to be “totally transparent.”

He thought the information being offered was “political opposition research,” he said, and cited Veselnitskaya’s public denial of working for the Russian government.

President Trump praised his eldest son’s decision to release the emails.

“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” Trump said in a statement read by White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, who referred further questions about Trump Jr’s meeting to his outside counsel.

Sanders said Monday that the administration stood by its statement that, while there had been meetings between campaign officials and Russians, there was “no collusion.”

She said the president found out about his son’s meeting only within the last couple of days.

Trump Jr’s release of the emails came after the New York Times reported further details about the meeting with Veselnitskaya.

The newspaper had reported some aspects of the contents of the emails shortly before Trump Jr. published the transcripts on Twitter.

Leading senators quickly reacted to the new developments, saying that ongoing investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow must look into Trump Jr.’s meeting.