Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush from 2005-2007 weighed in on revelations that Donald Trump Jr.'s met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer after being promised "damaging" information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Painter told MSNBC that, "We do not get our opposition research from spies...The Bush administration never would have tolerated this, and if this story is true, we'd have one of them, if not both of them in custody by now...This borders on treason."
Painter's comments come as president Trump's eldest son changed his account over the weekend of a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, during the 2016 campaign, saying Sunday that the woman told him she had information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.
A statement from Trump Jr. one day earlier made no mention of Clinton. In his initial depiction of the meeting last June, the president's son said the discussion focused on a disbanded program that used to allow American adoptions of Russian children.
It appeared that Trump Jr. shifted his account of the meeting after being presented with additional information from The New York Times, which first reported both the discussion and the prospect of negative information about Clinton.
The meeting with Veselnitskaya is the earliest known private meeting between key aides to the president and a Russian. Federal and congressional investigators are probing whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Russia to meddle in the presidential election, investigations the president has called a "hoax."
Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and White House senior adviser, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting with Veselnitskaya.
The Times, citing advisers to the White House who were briefed on the discussion, said Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being promised damaging information about Clinton.
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