Political News

Trump lies low as son's meeting scrutinized

Posted July 12, 2017 12:45 p.m. EDT

President Donald Trump has retreated from the spotlight as his White House is embroiled in yet another scandal after it was revealed that his eldest son met with a woman he was told was "a Russian government attorney" months before the election in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton's campaign.

The President has had no public events on his schedule for four days -- a rarity-for a sitting president -- and has not been seen outside of the Oval Office.

The administration has been in bunker-mode since The New York Times first reported Saturday that Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. He was promised "very high level and sensitive information" that was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."

As a candidate, Trump promised to be energetic and touted his stamina as one of his "greatest assets." He often remarked that his opponent didn't have the strength he did to hold the office.

"I'm saying she's not strong enough," he said of Clinton during an interview with Fox News in December 2015. "No, no, not a health issue, I say she's not strong enough to be president. We need a president who can go 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- she can't do it."

"She doesn't have the look," Trump later added during a debate in September 2016. "She doesn't have the stamina, I said she doesn't have the stamina, and I don't believe she does have the stamina."

The White House told CNN the President's schedule has been unusually light because he was "just rebooting before the next foreign trip."

"There was no downtime after the last one," the official said.

During his first foreign trip, White House advisers explained that Trump was "exhausted" after he mixed up the wording in a speech gave in Saudi Arabia in May, only two days into the nine-day trip.

Instead of using the milder phrase "Islamist extremism" that was pre-written into his speech, Trump said he would confront "Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds."

Trump has relied on White House staffers to defend his son in recent days instead, sending his deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders out to deliver a statement on his behalf during an off-camera briefing Tuesday.

"I've got a quick statement that I will read from the President," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, hours after Trump Jr. published the email exchange on Twitter.-"'My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.'"

"Beyond that, I'm going to have to refer everything on this matter to Don Jr.'s counsel and outside counsel, and won't have anything else to add beyond that today," she said.

Meanwhile, the President has opted for his favorite medium -- Twitter -- to say that his son has been "open, transparent and innocent" and repeating that the investigation into Russian meddling in the election, and whether his campaign colluded with a foreign government, was the "greatest Witch Hunt in political history."

On Monday, Trump met with evangelical leaders in the Oval Office, according to photos from the meeting.

Trump departs Washington for Paris Wednesday night, where he will likely face questions on his son for the first time when he holds a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday.