The Secret Service has hit back against a member of the Trump legal team's suggestion that they would have prevented Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer if something "nefarious" was going on. The agency says the Trump son was not under its protection at the time of the controversial meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, so they would not have been involved in vetting the participants. "Donald Trump Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016," the Secret Service said in a statement to CNN. "Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time." Trump Jr. had been told Veselnitskaya might have damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
"I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in," Jay Sebulow, President Trump's personal lawyer, told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday. His remarks were condemned by critics including Frances Townsend, one of former President George W. Bush's homeland security advisers, reports Reuters, which notes that even if Trump Jr. had been under the agency's protection, its role in vetting meeting participants extends only to protecting personal safety. "Ok let's try to deflect blame & throw those in @SecretService who protect @POTUS @realDonaldTrump @FLOTUS & family under the bus," Townsend tweeted. (The list of people at the meeting has grown to eight.)