Anchors grill Trump's lawyer on Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer

President Donald Trump's lawyer faced difficult questions on Sunday about Donald Trump Jr.'s attempt to glean damaging information on Hillary Clinton during a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer.

While Trump Jr.'s lawyers have remained primarily behind the scenes, the president's personal lawyer has become a ubiquitous presence on television, performing the so-called "Full Ginsberg" by appearing on all five major political talk shows on Sunday.

RELATED: Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr. through the years

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Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr. through the years
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Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr. through the years
FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump Jr. (L) gives a thumbs up beside his father Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (R) after Trump's debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Donald Trump, flanked by his son Donald Jr. (R), addresses the media in Chicago May 10, 2006. Trump was in Chicago to speak about his Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago that is being built on the old site of the Chicago Sun-Times building on the north side of the Chicago River. Trump also stated in the news conference that he has given the project oversight to the children.
FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump Jr. (C) hugs his father, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, as Donald Jr's wife Vanessa (L) walks past after Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File photo
Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open - September 3, 1988 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Donald Trump Jr. (L) walks off stage with his father Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump after Trump's debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during 'Veranda: New York's Best at Trump Park Avenue, The Ultimate Showcase Penthouse' Opening Night Reception at The Trump Park Avenue in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Robin Platzer/FilmMagic)
Donald Trump (C), entrepreneur and host of the television reality series "The Apprentice" poses with his wife and children (L-R) Donald Trump, Jr., Tiffany, Donald Trump, wife Melania, and daughter Ivanka at the party following the live telecast of the finale of season five in Los Angeles June 5, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser
Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Donald Trump (C) and his sons Eric F. Trump (L) and Donald Trump Jr. (R) attend the 'Celebrity Apprentice All Stars' Season 13 Press Conference at Jack Studios on October 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
Donald Trump (2nd L), entrepreneur and host of the television reality series 'The Apprentice', poses with his children, (L-R) son Donald Trump, Jr., and daughters Tiffany and Ivanka at the party following the live telecast of the finale of season five in Los Angeles June 5, 2006.
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (C) speaks with Donald Trump Jr. (L) and Ivanka Trump (R) during the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Donald Trump (R) waves to a fan as his son Donald Jr. looks on after Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles January 16, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello (UNITED STATES)
(L-R) Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump attend the ground breaking of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington July 23, 2014. The $200 million transformation of the Old Post Office Building into a Trump hotel is scheduled for completion in 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS REAL ESTATE)
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump kisses his son Donald, Jr. at a campaign event at Regents University in Virginia Beach, Virginia February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
UNITED STATES - APRIL 14: Donald Trump is joined by his son, Donald Jr., at a Park Ave. luncheon hosted by The Donald. (Photo by Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 27: Donald Trump, Visionary Business Leader award honoree, poses with his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka at Fashion Group International's 22nd Annual 'Night Of Stars' at Cipriani's 42nd Street October 27, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump at the Trump Soho Launch on September 19, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
COO Trump International Hotels, Jim Petrus, Ivanka Trump Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump at Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jr.and Eric Trump Launch the N on October 10, 2007 at Jean Georges, Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. (Photo by Shawn Ehlers/WireImage)
DATELINE NBC -- Pictured: (l-r) Donald Trump, Natalie Morales, Donald Trump Jr. -- (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 27: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) introduces his son Donald Trump Jr. (R) as he addressing the crowd during a campaign rally at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on April 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Trump is preparing for the Indiana Primary on May 3rd. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09: Donald Trump, Jr. (R) greets his father Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election. (Photo by Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images)
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In five interviews on Sunday, Jay Sekulow downplayed Trump's knowledge of the meeting, attended by Trump Jr., then campaign chief Paul Manafort, and current adviser Jared Kushner, and dodged and deflected questions by repeatedly criticizing former FBI Director James Comey, the Democratic National Committee, and the US Secret Service, among others.

Sekulow repeatedly dismissed the accusation that Trump was involved in the meeting, saying he learned about it shortly before the New York Times first disclosed that the meeting had taken place, and was unaware of the email exchange in which Trump Jr. said he was open to receiving potential information as part of the Russian government's support for the campaign.

But in an interview on "Meet the Press," NBC's Chuck Todd noted that many other top Trump campaign officials offered shifting statements about their knowledge of the meeting, noting Trump Jr.'s evolving explanation of what happened.

"It looks like a pattern of trying to at least — if not total cover it up, at least mislead or deceive," Todd said.

Sekulow replied that there was "nothing illegal to cover up," and insisted that the meeting was perfectly legal.

"That was information that was controlled, not by my client, not by the president, it was controlled by Donald Trump Jr. and they made a decision on how to release that out," Sekulow said.

But Fox News' Chris Wallace laid out top Trump officials' contradicting statements on Russia, showing a montage of members of the Trump campaign, including Trump, Trump Jr., Vice President Mike Pence, denying any contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, or knowledge of potential coordination.

"Do you now acknowledge that all of those denials are at the very least suspect?" Wallace asked.

After Sekulow attempted to pin the blame for the investigation on Comey, he said that he does not think the denial is suspect "at all."

'I ask the questions, you answer them'

Sekulow's primary tactic in each interview was an attempt to paint Comey as an attention seeker, blasting the former director for taking a book deal, and noting that the FBI director passed the New York Times information about his private meetings with Trump.

"He got that book deal because he got fired by the president," Wallace pointed out.

"He's going to go into details of his conversations with the president," Sekulow said. "Do you think that's good? Do you think that's okay?"

"I ask the questions, you answer them Jay," Wallace said.

"Yeah, but you don't want to answer that one," Sekulow replied.

On "Meet the Press," Todd confronted Trump's lawyer about his tendency to revert to criticism of Comey's disclosures to the New York Times, rather than answer questions.

"Mr. Sekulow, I didn't ask you about James Comey. I asked you about the specific email," Todd said when he pressed Trump's lawyer on why the president continues to insist that the Russia investigation is a "hoax."

Sekulow also attempted to cast the meeting as a normal aspect of opposition research for a campaign, pointing out that the Ukrainian government offered a Democratic National Committee contractor information on Paul Manafort, which the DNC denied it used.

But CNN's Jake Tapper noted that there aren't any congressional inquiries into the Ukrainian connection because there is no current evidence that anyone from the Ukrainian government met with the Clinton campaign.

"That's not normal," Tapper said. "You can talk about opposition research all you want, but the Russian government attorney? That's how this was billed out, with high-level intelligence on Hillary Clinton?"

Trump's lawyer also attempted to discredit the Russians in the meetings themselves, saying that the meeting only lasted for 15 minutes, and was one of many meetings Trump officials had during the course of the campaign.

But Sekulow sparked criticism when he argued that Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Veselnitskaya, and Akhmetshin was innocent because if it weren't, the Secret Service would not have let the guests meet with top members of the Trump campaign.

"I wonder why the Secret Service — if this was nefarious — why the Secret Service allowed these people in?" Sekulow told ABC's Jon Karl. "The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me."

'He can pardon individuals, of course'

Throughout Sunday's interviews, Sekulow insisted that the meeting was not only legal, but also was a morally sound decision.

Tapper noted that Sekulow was a Christian man, and asked about the ethics of seeking dirt on a political opponent from someone with close ties to an often adversarial foreign power.

"I understand you're a lawyer but you're also a man of faith," Tapper said. "Isn't it kind of important whether or not what Donald Trump, Jr., and Manafort and Kushner did, isn't it also important — whether or not it's legal — whether or not it's wrong? Whether or not it's ethical?"

"Everybody that's looking backwards and saying would've, should've, could've — and Donald Trump, Jr., said he would've done some things differently," Sekulow said.

"But to go back a year later and say this is what should've happened when the meeting itself was twenty minutes in a series of meetings that took place for days and days and months — I don't think that's fair to Donald Trump, Jr., to Jared Kushner, or to Manafort for that matter, because no one was in the situation of that kind of campaigning in the middle of a presidential election."

Tapper also pressed Sekulow about the campaign's decision to spend $50,000 hiring a lawyer for Trump Jr., an arrangement Sekulow said was "not an unusual scenario or an unusual set up at all."

"I think a lot of people who give money to the Trump campaign will be surprised that they're paying for the legal bills for Donald Trump Jr.," Tapper replied.

But despite the tough questions and various ongoing investigations into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, Sekulow didn't rule out a scenario in which the worst-case legal consequences may not result in punishment or jail time for Trump's associates.

On "This Week," Sekulow refused to rule out whether Trump would pardon his son, Manafort, or Kushner if they were convicted of crimes related to the investigation.

"I have not had the conversation with the president about any of that, and I wouldn't share it if I did because of the attorney-client privilege," Sekulow said.

"He can pardon individuals, of course, that's because the founders of our country put that in the United States Constitution, the power to pardon. But I have not had those conversations, so I couldn't speculate on that."

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