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Fox News's Jesse Watters: Trump Jr. is "the victim"

On Tuesday night, in the midst of the revelations that Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Kremlin-linked attorney with the belief that she would provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Fox News’s Jesse Watters defended Trump Jr., calling him “the victim" and suggesting he had been duped by a "sketchy" friend.

The emails Trump Jr. released suggest a far greater level of involvement on his part than Watters appears to believe is the case.

On the Fox evening show The Five, co-host Juan Williams paraphrased principal deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s statement on behalf of President Trump, which praised Trump Jr. for his transparency, before asking Watters for his perspective.

Watters responded that not only did be believe Trump Jr. was a “man of integrity,” but that in this situation he blamed Trump Jr.’s associate Rob Goldstone, who was responsible for setting up the meeting.

Goldstone, a British music publicist who met Trump Jr. during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, wrote in the emails that he was contacting Trump Jr. at the behest of Emin Agalarov, a Russian real estate developer and musician who works with his father, Aras Agalarov. Goldstone said they had received information from the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” and wanted to “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton].”

From Watters’s perspective, Trump Jr. — who exchanged emails with Goldstone that said, “I love it” in response to discussion of a coordinated Russian effort to help his father’s campaign — was merely a “victim.”

Watters went on to suggest that the whole encounter was some kind of “setup” and called Goldstone “suspicious.” Importantly, Watters noted that Trump Jr. “can’t get around the email,” suggesting not a substantive fault but, as Vox’s Jeff Guo notes in his piece on Fox News’s coverage, merely as a “problem of management and optics.”

Read a transcript of the exchange below:

WILLIAMS: Jesse, the president through, uh, his spokeswoman today said his son is an admirable young man. What you think?

WATTERS: I believe he's a man of integrity. I believe Don Jr. is the victim here. If you look at this guy, Goldstein, I mean he looks like a —


WATTERS: Goldstone, whatever his name, he looks like some sort of sketchy '90s boy band manager with that outfit. He is very suspicious. It looked like the whole thing was a setup. If I was Don Jr., I would be furious at this so-called associate of mine who dumped this wacky lawyer in my lap from Russia, who ends up blowing this whole thing up this summer, and the email thing is now — you know, can't get around the email. I would be mad at this Goldstone guy.