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A senior member of President Donald Trump‘s legal team on Sunday implicated the United States Secret Service in a new attempt to dismiss a controversial meeting between Trump campaign members and Russian nationals.
Jay Sekulow, speaking with host Jonathon Karl on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, falsely suggested the Secret Service would have prevented a June 9, 2016, meeting between Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, and a Russian lawyer with known ties to the Kremlin, were the meeting in any way “nefarious.”
“Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” Sekulow said. “The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”
Trump Jr. met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya on the grounds that she had “incriminating” information on his father’s political opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to emails Trump Jr. released.
The meeting was also attended by former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort; Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law; and Rinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.
Akhmetshin told Yahoo on Friday that “no one asked us for ID’s” when they went for the meeting a Trump Tower in New York City. “We literally walked in,” he said.
The Secret Service soon rebutted Sekulow’s claim that agents would have vetted the meeting’s attendees.
“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016,” Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said in a statement to Reuters. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”
The Secret Service is tasked with ensuring its protectee’s physical safety, not preventing them from meeting with specific individuals.
Sekulow does not represent Trump Jr. He has recently become a regular defender of the president in television appearances.
You can watch the entire interview here.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]