Trump ‘Weighed In’ on Son's Statement on Meeting Russian LawyerBy
White House account conflicts with denial by Trump attorney
Accounts of meeting with Russian changed details revealed
President Donald Trump was involved in crafting a statement released by his son about a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer, a White House spokeswoman said, providing an account that conflicts with assertions made by the president’s own lawyer two weeks ago.
Trump “weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in response to questions about a Washington Post story that said Trump dictated the statement released by his son. “He certainly didn’t dictate. But, you know, he -- like I said, he weighed in, offered a suggestion.”
Donald Trump Jr.’s statement was crafted as the president returned from the Group of 20 summit in Germany on Air Force One. The statement has come under scrutiny because it appeared to provide misleading information about the nature of Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer. That meeting now is a subject of congressional and Justice Department investigations into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
In his initial statement, the younger Trump said he and the lawyer primarily discussed adoptions of Russian children. After the New York Times published stories about the meeting, Trump Jr. released emails showing that the encounter was set up by a Trump associate with Russian ties who promised to deliver potentially damaging information on Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Russian government.
Sanders disputed suggestions that the statement saying the meeting was primarily about Russian adoptions was misleading. “The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There’s no inaccuracy in the statement,” she said.
Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, who has been handling inquiries into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, had previously denied Trump’s involvement in drafting the initial statement.
“I do want to be clear that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump, Jr.,” Sekulow said in an interview July 16 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In a separate interview on ABC’s Good Morning America on July 12, Sekulow said: "The president wasn’t involved in that" and disputed a New York Times report that he was.
Sekulow didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment made through his spokesman, Gene Kapp.
The younger Trump has said that the lawyer shared no useful information on Clinton and that most of the meeting was spent discussing a Russian ban on U.S. adoptions.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show that if Trump dictated a misleading statement, “that was a bad decision by the president, which will make us ask more questions. When you get caught in a lie about one thing, it makes it hard to just say ‘let the other stuff go.”’