With no apparent sense of irony, President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended the "transparency" of his eldest son's decision to tweet a damning email thread—which legal experts have deemed a "smoking gun" that points to apparent collusion—just before it was exposed by a New York Times report.
In a written statement, read by deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at an off-camera press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Trump said, "My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency." It is the first and only public comment he has offered so far.
Asked if she knew when the president last spoke to Donald Trump Jr., Sanders said no, and referred all other questions to outside counsel. Speaking generally, she addressed circulating allegations of "treason" and "perjury," saying: "I think those new words are ridiculous."
Confronted by reporters about yet another off-camera briefing, Sanders said they are "one of the many ways" the administration chooses "to communicate the president's message and talk about the agenda."
However, Don Jr. spent the afternoon retweeting his supporters, who include conservative television-show host Bill O'Reilly; Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas; and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has been named a "person of interest" in FBI's investigation into whether the president colluded with Russian officials to influence the presidential election last year.
But beyond the White House and far-right pundits, Don Jr. is being schooled on what it truly means to be "transparent."
Don Jr should be applauded for his transparency if transparency means posting emails 13 months later after you've already been caught.— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) July 11, 2017
Illustrating Don Jr.'s ever-changing narrative about the meeting—comments that have been provoked by a steady flow of breaking news reports throughout the week—House Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted:
Don Jr Transparency:— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) July 11, 2017
I never met with Russians.
I met with Russians on adoptions.
I met with them to get damaging Clinton info.
Love it. https://t.co/7fkHKrqzkI
Commenting on what could be one of his storylines come to life, "House of Cards" creator Beau Willimon said:
Transparency ain't transparency after multiple denials & revised statements. Don Jr is holding up his red hand because he was already caught https://t.co/nleNWUHgst— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) July 11, 2017
Although Willimon didn't go so far as to make comparisons to his show, others did:
I see Donny Trump, Jr. is attempting the Frank Underwood method of transparency to try and get out of this mess.— Dave Tucker (@TestudoDave) July 11, 2017