Trump trip overshadowed by yet another controversy

Reporting by John Roberts

President Trump leaves for his third foreign trip tomorrow this week. What was designed as a show of solidarity between the U.S. and France in the fight against terrorism has yet another cloud of controversy threatening to overshadow the agenda.

In his first public comments since his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin President Trump did not talk about his new firestorm surrounding his son, Donald Trump Jr. today, but he did say on CBN that he thinks he and Putin can get along.

“I think we get along very, very well. We are a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they. It doesn’t make sense not to have some kind of a relationship.”

In an appearance with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity last night, Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that he took the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya because she may have had useful information about Hillary Clinton and ties to Russia.

“I had been reading about scandals that people were probably underreporting for a long time so maybe it was something that had to do with one of those things,” Don Jr. said. “I mean this was perhaps involvement with the Russian government.”

Trump Jr. played down the significance of encounter, saying Veselnitskaya revealed nothing about Hillary Clinton and instead wanted to talk about Russian adoptions.

The President praised the appearance, tweeting this morning: “My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”

The meeting came up on Capitol Hill today. Senator Lindsey Graham pushed FBI nominee Christopher Wray into directly contradicting the president.

Graham: Do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt?

Wray: I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt.

Asked about the contradiction White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed up her boss.

Senator Graham also pressed Wray whether he thought Trump Jr. should have brought the matter to the attention of the FBI. 

Wray replied by saying “ to the members of this committee any threat or effort to interfere is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”

Russian officials today denied any involvement in the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya, mocking the whole episode as worthy of a soap opera.

For his part, the president tried to force the spotlight onto the Democrats, tweeting: @WashTimes states Democrats have willfully used Moscow disinformation to influence the presidential election against Donald Trump. Why aren’t the same standards placed on the Democrats. Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!”

After smothering any progress that came out of President Trump’s  meeting with Vladimir Putin last week, the controversy now threatens to overshadow his upcoming trip to France. But amid reports the White House is in a state of paralysis and President Trump obsessed with the bad news on cable TV, he took a “nothing to see here” attitude today tweeting: “ The WH is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things. I have very little time for watching T.V.”