President Donald Trump defended his son Donald Jr on Thursday who is under fire for accepting a meeting with a Moscow lawyer during the US election campaign last year.
“My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer,” Trump said in his first public remarks about the scandal during a visit to Paris.
He added: “From a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting.”
The scandal over Donald Jr’s willingness to meet the lawyer has put Trump’s top aides in legal jeopardy, cast a pall over his efforts to remake the political agenda and may yet imperil his presidency.
Trump was in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, with both men talking of a newfound friendship.
Macron rolled out the red carpet, hoping to improve relations and persuade the US president to change his mind about withdrawing from the global Paris agreement on climate change.
Macron said earlier that he had a “strong disagreement” over the deal with Trump, who hopes to renegotiate the agreement
The US president said cryptically: “Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We’ll see what happens.”
But the tone of their press conference and warm body language was at odds with broader concerns about the transatlantic relationship since Trump’s victory in November last year.
Macron, only 39-years old and elected in May, said he looked forward to a “dinner between friends” later Thursday when he and his wife will enjoy a Michelin-starred meal with the Trumps in a restaurant up the Eiffel Tower.
The US president praised Macron as a “great president”, saying “he is going to run this country right.”
“The friendship between our two nations and ourselves is unbreakable,” Trump said after talks at the French presidential palace focused on joint US-French efforts to fight terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.
Macron had warned on the eve of Trump’s arrival that “the Western world is fracturing since the American election” and that the world order established after World War II was under threat.