The White House said Monday that the real collusion with a foreign power during the campaign was between the Democratic National Committee and Ukraine.
“If you are looking for an example of a campaign coordinating with foreign country or a foreign source, look no further than the DNC which actually coordinated opposition research with the Ukrainian embassy,” said White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Fending off questions about Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential race, Mrs. Sanders noted at the daily White House press briefing that the DNC’s work with Ukraine was well documented.
DNC operatives worked with officials at the Ukraine embassy in an effort to spread dirt on Donald Trump during the campaign, according to reports.
“This is not an accusation. That is an on-the-record action that they took,” Mrs. Sanders said.
“No one in this room to my knowledge really had a problem with that,” she said.
The Ukraine Embassy in Washington disputed Mrs. Sanders’ remarks.
“Unfortunately, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders must have been misinformed about Ukraine and the DNC,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The Embassy of Ukraine in Washington did not coordinate with the DNC about opposition research. While some politicians who are not part of the Ukrainian government might have taken sides during last year’s elections in the U.S., the government of Ukraine did not,” it said.
The New York Times first reported the meeting between President Trump’s eldest son and the Kremlin-connected lawyer.
The younger Mr. Trump, who worked on his father’s campaign, said the lawyer claimed to have damaging information about the Clinton campaign but then focused on restarting a defunct program for U.S. adoptions of Russian babies.
The meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was also attended by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort.
The younger Mr. Trump and not previously disclosed the meeting. However, Mr. Kushner and Mr. Manafort had disclosed the meeting on federal forms, which were described to the newspaper and provided a basis for the story.
The younger Mr. Trump said that during the meeting Ms. Veselnitskaya claimed to have information that “individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee” and supporting Mrs. Clinton.
“No details or supporting information was provided or even offered,” the younger Mr. Trump said in a statement. “It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
He said no details or supporting information was ever offered, and that his father was unaware of the meeting.
The president’s opponents in the U.S. seized on the story as fresh evidence of possible collusion. The FBI has uncovered no evidence of collusion after a yearlong investigation, but investigations continues, including a Justice Department special counsel probe that began in May.