By Jordan Fabian - 07-13-17 13:37 PM EDT
President Trump on Thursday appeared to blame the Obama administration for allowing a Russian lawyer who met with his eldest son to enter the United States.
The president appeared to cite a report in The Hill that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch allowed Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya to travel into the country early last year.
"She was here because of Lynch," Trump said during a press conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The president defended Donald Trump Jr., saying that "most people" would have taken that the meeting with Veselnitskaya, who claimed to have damaging information on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
"Nothing happened from the meeting. Zero happened from the meeting, and honestly I think the press made a big deal over something that many people would do," Trump said.
The comments were an attempt to deflect attention away from his son's decision to take the meeting, which has stoked the Russia controversy surrounding the White House.
It was the clearest indication members of Trump's inner circle sought damaging information on his Democratic opponent from Russia, a foreign adversary.
But Trump said his son did nothing wrong.
"I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research," he said. "Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard."
Lynch granted Veselnitskaya special immigration parole for the limited purpose of helping a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, her client, defend itself against a Justice Department asset forfeiture case in New York City.
While she was in the U.S., Veselnitskaya participated in a wide-ranging pro-Russia lobbying campaign against the Magnitsky Act, which punished Russians for human rights violations.
Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya promised him information on Clinton in order to secure a meeting, when the meeting was in fact about Russian adoptions. Russia banned adoptions from the U.S. after the Magnitsky Act passed.