After weeks out of the spotlight, White House aide Sebastian Gorka was trotted out on Tuesday to defend Donald Trump, Jr. amid reports that he tried to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton that he had been told was part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s presidential campaign.
He repeatedly alleged that the Democratic National Committee, not the Trump campaign, had actually colluded with a foreign government.
In a pair of lengthy, combative interviews on CNN and MSNBC, Gorka argued that Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, was a “massive nothing burger” and “standard political practice.”
“She was a private lawyer who had an interest with regard to the Russian adoption program, and used a pretext to get a meeting with the campaign which the campaign representatives almost immediately realized was not done in good faith,” Gorka said on CNN. “That she had another agenda.”
“What’s funny is that they wanted the original agenda,” CNN’s Alisyn Camerota replied. “They wanted the dirt.”
“Which is what political campaigns do,” Gorka insisted.
Trump Jr. has said in public statements that he met with Veselnitskaya in the hopes of obtaining “helpful” information about Clinton, and that he cut the meeting short when it became clear he would receive no dirt about his father’s political opponent.
Pressed on specifics, Gorka repeatedly pivoted to criticisms of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
“If there’s a meeting that was wholly appropriate but which led to nothing, let’s compare that to the DNC sending its people to the Ukrainian embassy to coordinate oppo attacks against our candidate,” Gorka told Camerota. “If you want to see collusion, it’s in the DNC. I mean it is up to their necks.”
Gorka appeared to be referring to a Politico investigation that was published in January and made the rounds on conservative media this week. The report centered in part around Alexandra Chalupa, a Democratic operative of Ukrainian extraction and a former consultant for the DNC, who on the side conducted research on Paul Manafort’s work in Ukraine. Chalupa told Politico that she shared her concerns about the former Trump campaign chairman with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington also shared some of her research with DNC and Clinton campaign officials during the campaign.
Chalupa left the DNC in July 2016 to concentrate her efforts on looking into Trump and Manafort’s Russia connections, according to the report.
According to Gorka, cable networks would be better served spending their time following up on that story or on what he said was a torrent of leaks that continue to flood out of the Trump White House. Clinton’s “home brew server” was another worthy topic for discussion, he proposed.
Camerota and MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle reminded the White House aide repeatedly that Clinton lost the election and Trump was now sitting in the White House.
Gorka also stopped by “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning, where he spoke about Iraqi forces retaking control of the Islamic State’s stronghold of Mosul. He was asked no questions about the Trump Jr. story in that interview.