ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Secret Service pushed back on an assertion one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers made Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that the agency should have prevented Russians from meeting last year with the president’s eldest son.
“I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” attorney Jay Sekulow said this morning of the meeting Donald Trump Jr. arranged with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign. “The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”
But the Secret Service rejected Sekulow’s comment in a statement to ABC News.
“Donald Trump Jr. was not under Secret Service protection in June 2016,” according to the statement. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”
The president had Secret Service protection but it would not have included vetting people who met with members of his campaign staff.
Donald Trump Jr. released emails last week revealing that he had arranged to meet with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, with the hopes of receiving potentially damning information about Trump’s election rival, Hillary Clinton.
The meeting came under additional scrutiny Friday with the revelation that additional people with connections to the Russia government attended the meeting, including a long-time lobbyist.
Sekulow’s comment about the Secret Service was met with criticism on Twitter Sunday, including from Frances Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, and Richard W. Painter, Bush’s ethics lawyer.
Trump defender plunges to new low, blames Trump family betrayals on Secret Service who risk life to protect the President. https://t.co/Kip8uViCeR
— Mindy Finn (@mindyfinn) July 16, 2017
— Frances Townsend (@FranTownsend) July 16, 2017
Sekulow takes his client to a new low if he blames the Secret Service. It wasn’t their job to keep Don Jr. from meeting with Russian agents.
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) July 16, 2017
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