The Secret Service pushed back on a suggestion Sunday from President Trump’s outside attorney that the now-infamous 2016 meeting the president's eldest son took with Russian representatives would not have happened if the Secret Service considered it a problem.
Jay Sekulow had questioned why the Secret Service allowed Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others into Trump Tower for the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016.
“If this was nefarious, why’d the Secret Service allow these people in?” Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The president had Secret Service protection at that point. That raised a question with me.”
But according to the Secret Service, their protection did not extend to the president’s son at that point in the campaign.
“Donald Trump Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June 2016,” a USSS official said. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”
The Secret Service has authorization to protect family members of the president, vice president, president-elect and vice president-elect, along with other individuals in the presidential line of succession. They also are authorized to protect major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within 120 days of a general election.
Donald Trump Jr. would not have fallen into those categories at that time.
Sekulow, in multiple interviews on Sunday, tried to downplay the controversy over the 2016 meeting, apparently held after an intermediary said a Russian lawyer could have damaging information on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The meeting details have revived allegations of collusion with Russia which the Trump team denies.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Wes Barrett contributed to this report.