Updated | President Donald Trump has been steadfast in standing by his son's side since reports last week that Donald Trump Jr. organized a meeting with Russian operatives to obtain government-backed opposition research against then–Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
His claims that Trump Jr. is "a good boy" and was only doing what any other campaign surrogate would have done in his position faced strong criticisms from voters across the country Monday, after the president suggested retrieving damaging material on an opponent—even if from a hostile foreign network or adversary like the Kremlin—is typical "politics."
Those who broadcast their rejection of Trump's defense ran the gamut from political insiders and elected officials to concerned citizens and even celebrities with millions of social media followers.
"Don [Jr.] said he didn’t know it was about Hillary then admitted he lied the next day," actor Judd Apatow tweeted at the president to his more than 2 million followers, referring to the statements on Trump Jr.'s controversial Russian meeting. "You raised a liar."
The actor was responding to Trump's Monday morning tweet stating, "Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics!"
But the president's tweet wasn’t enough to quell questions from celebrities like Apatow, or from ordinary Americans who have been wondering why meetings with Russian officials weren’t included in several Trump aides’ security clearance forms, including White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who also attended Trump Jr.’s meeting.
"Trump buried the lede. The info was from Russia. Opponent research from enemies is NOT part of American politics," one Twitter user identified as Adam Best wrote Monday. "If the meeting Don Jr. went to was normal, why did he lie about it over and over? Why did Kushner lie about it on his security application?"
"The President should stop defending his family and cooperate with investigators into possible Russia collusion by his campaign," wrote another. "If there's nothing to be found, there should be no reason to hide."
Republican lawmakers also expressed their disdain for the information coming from the Trumps on the Russian controversy consuming Washington. "The implications of the email thread are serious & disturbing," Michigan Representative Justin Amash tweeted Wednesday. "We deserve answers, not an ever-changing story. If there's more, tell us now."
Meanwhile, several top-level members of Trump’s administration appear to be distancing themselves from the ongoing federal probes into Russia’s involvement in the election. Vice President Mike Pence continued to separate himself from the Trump campaign’s suspected collusion after the latest reports broke, stating through his press secretary he was "not aware of" the meeting and uninterested in commenting on events that transpired before Trump chose him to serve as his vice president.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Justin Amash as a Massachusetts representative. He is a Michigan representative.
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