Donald Trump Jr. had “legitimate reason” while testifying before lawmakers to decline to discuss a conversation with his father by citing attorney-client privilege, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
Trump Jr. declined to tell members of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday about a conversation with President Donald Trump over the summer after news broke that Trump’s eldest son had met with Russian-linked contacts in Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential race.
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Though neither the president nor his son is an attorney, Trump Jr. told congressional investigators that the discussion was subject to attorney-client privilege because there was a lawyer in the room.
The White House backed Trump Jr.’s characterization of the exchange on Thursday.
“We believe that his lawyers had a legitimate reason and basis for not answering those questions,” Sanders said at Thursday’s daily press briefing.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the House panel’s top Democrat, disputed Trump Jr.’s ability to summon client-attorney privilege Wednesday following the hearing.
“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” he said, after the committee’s lengthy interview with Trump Jr. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”
The meeting in question, where Trump Jr., senior adviser Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, has become a central part of congressional probes into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.