The controversy surrounding Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election took a major turn in July, when it was reported and later confirmed that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian attorney during the campaign in the hopes of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton. This has put the president's son front and center in the Russia scandal, and the timeline of Trump Jr. quotes about Russia shows that his official position on the matter has evolved significantly over time.
After The New York Times broke the story of the meeting, Trump Jr. himself released the email exchange that led him to meet with the attorney in question, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in the summer of 2016. In the emails, Trump Jr. was told that Veselnitskaya would give him incriminating info on Hillary Clinton as a part of the Russian government's "support for Trump." "If it's what you say I love it," Trump Jr. replied.
But Trump Jr. had been talking about Russia long before that meeting. As far back as 2008, he has spoken about the Trump Organization's financial connections to Russia, and in the heat of the 2016 campaign, he denied having met with any Russians as a representative of his father's campaign. After releasing the emails, however, Trump Jr. acknowledged that he was meeting with Veselnitskaya to obtain "opposition research" on Clinton.
Trump Jr. has said a lot of things about Russia over the years, so here are some of his most memorable comments organized by date:
At a real estate conference, global travel trade publication eTurboNews reported that Trump Jr. said:
Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets ... we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.
June 24, 2016
In an interview with CNN regarding allegations that Russia hacked and released emails from the Democratic National Committee, Trump Jr. said:
I can't think of bigger lies, but that exactly goes to show you what the DNC and what the Clinton camp will do. They will lie and do anything to win.
During an interview with The New York Times, Trump Jr. said:
Did I meet with people that were Russian? I'm sure, I'm sure I did ... But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.
June 6, 2017
Trump Jr. said during an interview on Good Morning America:
I mean, to me [the Russia investigation] without a question you know, reads and smells like a witch hunt.
June 8, 2017
Trump Jr. claimed during an interview on Fox News:
[The Russia investigation] has been a 10-month witch hunt. ... This is what they did to distract him from being able to get the stuff done that he was elected to ultimately do.
July 8, 2017
Trump Jr. wrote the following in his first official statement about the meeting with the Russian attorney:
It was a short, introductory meeting ... we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow-up.
July 9, 2017
Trump wrote in his second official statement on the meeting:
I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. ... [T]he woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.
July 10, 2017
Trump Jr. also released a third statement on the meeting, saying:
[The meeting] occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue.
July 12, 2017
Asked whether he pressed the Russian attorney for info on Clinton, Trump Jr. told Fox News:
For me, this was opposition research. They had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I'd been hearing about, but were probably underreported for, you know, years; not just during the campaign.
Trump Jr. is set to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia, but not under oath or in public. Though his statements confirm he initially withheld information about his meeting with Veselnitskaya, they do nothing to suggest he has never been anything but friendly to the adversarial country.