GOP rep on Trump Jr. meeting: 'This isn't treason'

A GOP lawmaker pushed back Friday on President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE's claim that "many people" would have taken the meeting with a Russian lawyer that ensnared his eldest son.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told CNN's "New Day" on Friday that Trump was wrong to say many people would have taken the meeting with the Kremlin-linked attorney who promised Donald Trump Jr. incriminating information about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons remember former adviser Vernon Jordan Biden praises Vernon Jordan: He 'knew the soul of America' The parts of H.R. 1 you haven't heard about MORE.

"Would you have taken the meeting?" CNN's John Berman asked Kinzinger.

"No, absolutely not," Kinzinger responded.

If Kinzinger had been approached, he said, he would have taken the matter straight to the FBI.


"I, frankly, if it happened to me, would call the FBI and say, 'Hey, this government or that government is offering information — do you want me to take this meeting as counterespionage or something?'" Kinzinger said. 

Still, Kinzinger said Democrats are going too far in suggesting that Trump Jr.'s decision to meet with the attorney constituted "treason."

"There are some on the other side of the aisle who are really hysteric about this," Kinzinger said. "I've heard the word treason. This isn't treason."

Yet he also warned fellow Republicans against dismissing Trump Jr.'s conduct.

"On the other hand, to dismiss this, to say anybody would have met with anybody, that may be the case if someone emails you and says, 'Hey, I have some information on your opponent.' But when you see it's from the Russian government, courtesy of your friend Vladimir or whatever, that's when you hit 'hard stop' on that."

Kinzinger concluded with some advice for candidates if they are confronted with information like this in the future.

"If you hear that something is provide by a government, even if it's our friends in Canada or Australia, that's when you go to the FBI," he said.

"They usually don't do it out of the goodness of their heart," he added. "There's usually a payback."

On Tuesday, Trump Jr. released an email chain revealing how a meeting was set up between him, Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an attorney with connections to the Russian government who promised incriminating information on Clinton.

Trump defended his eldest son at a press conference Thursday in France.

“Nothing happened from the meeting. Zero happened from the meeting, and honestly I think the press made a big deal over something that many people would do,” Trump said.