Government

Portman: Trump Jr. Meeting ‘Not Appropriate’

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman acknowledged Tuesday afternoon that a meeting between Donald J. Trump Jr. and representatives of Russia were “not appropriate.”

The June 9 meeting, reported over the weekend by The New York Times and further outlined Tuesday through a chain of emails released by Trump Jr., son of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, was among the topics Portman fielded questions about during a scheduled late afternoon call with Ohio reporters.

The meeting, with an attorney connected to the Russian government who was expected to provide damaging information to use against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, also involved then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

It’s not appropriate to have these kinds of meetings with that intent. I think that’s clear,” he said. “But that’s something that ought to be subject to the investigation that’s ongoing.”

Portman said he wanted to see the results of the probes by Robert Mueller, appointed to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election, and the congressional committees also investigating the issue. Asked whether he believed collusion took place between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government, he responded, “I don’t think we’ll know unless we know what happened in the meeting.”

He also reiterated his support for Mueller’s appointment. “We need to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, also called for the truth regarding the meeting in a statement issued earlier in the day.

“With every day that passes and with every new revelation, it seems the story about Russia coming from this administration changes,” he said. “Every day we don’t get the truth is one more day the administration is going back on its promise to create jobs for our people, end the opioid epidemic, increase access to affordable health care and put money back into the pockets of American families.”

When first asked about the emails, Portman said he hadn’t seen them because he had been involved in meetings related to health care and taxes earlier in the day.

Senate leaders said the latest Senate health care proposal should be released Thursday, Portman reported. Having not seen the new language yet or Congressional Budget office scoring, he said his position remains the same as it was prior to Congress’ Independence Day holiday break.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would keep the Senate in session for an additional two weeks prior to recessing in August to complete legislation relating to health care and other issues before the Senate.

His concerns remain the same as when he opposed the version proposed by the House of Representatives as well as the first Senate bill regarding proposals to curtail Medicaid, which is “an important payer” for opioid treatment. The senator was among a group of senators who served on a committee looking at the bill, which was drafted by Senate leadership.

Portman said he was hearing from a lot of people on both sides of the health-care debate, which is “a complex issue” with multiple consequences for individuals and families.

I’ve said from the start that I’m going to look at this legislation in terms of what’s best for Ohio, and if I think given all the pros and cons of the legislation that it’s the best thing for our state, I’m going to vote for it,” he said. “If I think it’s not, I’m going to vote against it.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.