On Tuesday morning, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted screenshots of his emails discussing a meeting with a Russian lawyer which promised incriminating information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. While many on the left have called this exchange "collusion" and "potentially treason," Republicans' reactions to Trump Jr.'s email scandal have been pretty reserved, though some have noticeably distanced themselves from the situation.
President Donald Trump released a statement read by deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, saying: "My son is a high-quality person, and I applaud his transparency."
Vice President Mike Pence denied having knowledge about Trump Jr.'s meeting, and also released a statement via his press secretary, Marc Lotter, saying, "The Vice President is working every day to advance the President's agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do. The Vice President was not aware of the meeting. He is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket."
Sen. Lindsey Graham said that Trump Jr. needed to testify regarding the meeting, and called the contents of the emails "disturbing," and said that, "Anytime you're in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no."
However, Graham also commented on how Trump Jr. reportedly gained no knowledge of the Clinton campaign during the meeting: "I don’t know why they would pick somebody for him to meet with that didn’t have any information about the Clinton campaign. But on its face, this is very problematic."
On CNN, Sen. John McCain said, "Many allusions and many stories of meetings and communications and stuff, yeah, so there’ll be many more shoes that will drop." Then, when asked how serious he thinks the revelation is, McCain responded, "I don’t know. But it’s certainly another shoe that’s dropped that needs to be pursued and looked at."
Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted, "Liberal media in a frenzy because Donald Trump Jr released all his emails. Should have just deleted them. We know that's fine with them!" Trump Jr. retweeted this.
According to the Boston Globe, Sen. Orrin Hatch said the whole thing was "overblown" and called Trump Jr. "a very nice young man," while Sen. Thom Tillis cautioned Republicans not to get "distracted" by the news.
After announcing that the Senate will delay its August recess to continue revisions on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said "I'm sure [the Senate Intelligence Committee] will get to the bottom of whatever may have happened."
One member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Susan Collins, said Trump Jr.'s emails deserve a thorough investigation, and, “I believe that the committee should interview Donald Trump Jr., as well as everyone else who was involved in attending the meeting or setting up the meeting. Until we have a fuller picture, it would be premature for me to reach any judgment.”
Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Sen. Richard Burr told BuzzFeed that he has read the New York Times stories about the emails and, "we're going to go where the facts lead us. I don't form conclusions until I've finished the investigation."
Sen. John Kennedy said that he will wait for the FBI investigation's outcome to decide how serious Trump Jr.'s emails are. He told Buzzfeed, "I think what it will find is that Russia tried to interfere in our election, duh. They've been doing it for decades. Now, if anybody conspired with them, I think they ought to be held accountable, but we don't know anything yet."
Sen. Marco Rubio also deferred to the investigation on Russia's interference in the election taken up by special counsel Robert Muller. He told the Tampa Bay Times, "I don’t know other than what’s been reported in the press. I imagine the Intelligence Committee will look at that as part of an overall process.”
Rubio also commented on the question of whether the Russian lawyer Trump Jr. met with, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was acting on behalf of the Russian government or not, saying, "We’ll need to learn details about it and see if that in fact was something (the Russian government) did or if it was just something that happened through an independent actor."