WASHINGTON — Sen. Rob Portman sidestepped questions on Tuesday about whether he thought Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in 2016 to discuss damaging information about then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was evidence of collusion.
But the Ohio Republican did say it was “not appropriate” for Trump Jr. to meet with the Russian lawyer.
Trump Jr. released an email exchange on Tuesday leading up to that meeting, in which an intermediary tells him the lawyer is a senior Russian government official and has dirt on Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
"I love it," the president's oldest son replied within a few minutes.
Portman said he had not seen the emails, which Trump Jr. released on Twitter just as The New York Times was prepared to publish them.
Like other Republicans in Congress, Portman deflected questions on the matter by saying Trump Jr.’s meeting and the email exchange should be investigated by a special counsel probing possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
“I do think this is something that will be looked into by special counsel Mueller,” Portman said, referring to Robert Mueller, the former FBI chief now leading the special probe.
Pressed on Trump Jr.’s meeting, Portman added: “It’s not appropriate to have those kinds of meetings with that intent. I think that’s clear.”
Whether it’s more than inappropriate, he declined to say. “I don’t think we’ll know unless we know what happened in the meeting. I think that’s something Mueller should investigate.”