Pence distances himself from latest Russia bombshell, saying Trump Jr. meeting was 'before he joined the campaign'

Vice President Mike Pence distanced himself from the latest Russia-related controversy on Tuesday after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted emails showing him setting up a meeting with a Russian lawyer who he thought had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. reportedly set up the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower at the behest of Rob Goldstone, a music publicist for a Russian pop star with connections to Trump. In emails, Goldstone told Trump Jr. that a woman whom he identifies as a "Russian government attorney" would like to share some information about Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."

RELATED: Politicians, pundits sound off on Donald Trump Jr.'s emails

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Politicians, pundits sound off on Donald Trump Jr.'s emails
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Politicians, pundits sound off on Donald Trump Jr.'s emails
If this isn't treasonous, I'm not sure what is. https://t.co/QrBaaf4psM
Is this Hillary Collusion?? https://t.co/JMX4kqIbt7
Quick reminder: something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be foolish, wrong and un-American. @DonaldJTrumpJr https://t.co/nnWxmryCKV
.@LindseyGrahamSC on CNN: I know Don Jr and Jared Kushner are new to politics but this is going to require a lot of questions to be answered
.@realDonaldTrump’s son & aides met w/ Russian agent to influence our election. That is a fact.… https://t.co/Enf0NK8AGj
.@MerriamWebster definition of #collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful p… https://t.co/Rqo26PD5Xw
Liberal media in a frenzy because Donald Trump Jr released all his emails. Should've just deleted them. We know that's fine with them!
What seems interesting: Email tells Trump Jr. the effort is part of Russia government's efforts to help Trump. He doesn't ask questions.
"On its face, this email chain is proof of a willingness expressed by @DonaldJTrumpJr to collude with Russia" --@JakeTapper on @CNN
So...this is it right?
I consider my friend @DonaldJTrumpJr a honorable man in every sense of the word . 🇺🇸✌️
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman says Trump Jr. emails are "almost a smoking cannon." Told me "there's no question this is treason."
.@matthewamiller: I don't know how anyone can come out and defend what is in these emails, whether republican or democrat #AMR
Graham: Trump Jr. "definitely has to testify" https://t.co/SzwEwq9LLE
Sen. Hatch says the Don Jr. emails are not "relevant" and "all this stuff about Trump's sons and daughter -- it's a bunch of bunk."
Statement from @VPPressSec on Donald Trump Jr meeting and @VP's knowledge https://t.co/iYiyoWfHRx
There's NO way Don Jr, Jared & Paul Manafort met w/ the Russian Gov't operative without advising Donald Trump in advance. HE'S GUILTY, TOO!
Tapper: "This can't be dismissed as people out to get Donald J. Trump Jr. or fake news. This is evidence of willing… https://t.co/oSaRNQBtLb
So, I just talked to Mark Warner: https://t.co/eXm4ECI3OW
Sen @ChrisMurphyCT on Don Jr: "For a long time we saw a lot of smoke but no fire, you're seeing the fire today."
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A statement from Pence's press secretary noted that the meeting happened before he was named as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate in July.

"The vice president is working every day to advance the president's agenda," Marc Lotter, Pence's press secretary, said in a statement. "He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focused on stories about the campaign — especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign."

Trump Jr. said Sunday that the meeting was set up on the premise that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, would provide damaging information on Clinton, but said that material was never presented. Instead, in what he said was a roughly 30-minute meeting, Veselnitskaya pivoted to discussing the Magnitsky Act, a US law blacklisting Russians accused of human rights abuses that so enraged Putin that he retaliated by barring US citizens from adopting Russian children.

"Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent," Trump Jr. tweeted Monday. "Went nowhere but had to listen."

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