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WashPost: Trump Dictated Son's Statement on Russian Meeting

Image: WashPost: Trump Dictated Son's Statement on Russian Meeting
President Donald Trump (AP Photo)

By    |   Monday, 31 Jul 2017 09:05 PM

President Donald Trump, against the advice of his staff, personally dictated the statement his son, Donald Trump Jr., gave to The New York Times about his meeting with a Russian lawyer — a statement that was later shown to be misleading, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The Times was preparing to break its story as Trump was departing the G-20 Summit in Germany on July 8.

With the Times seeking comment, members of Trump's team, including strategic communications director Hope Hicks and White House spokesman Josh Raffel, met with lawyers for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who also attended the now infamous meeting, anonymous White House advisers told the Post.

According to the Post's sources, Kushner's lawyers argued for full transparency, figuring the whole story eventually would come to light. They suggested everything, including the email chain leading up to the meeting, be released to a mainstream news organization.

Trump's personal legal team suggested a more friendly news outlet, naming Circa because it had recently requested information about the meeting. Trump's legal team wanted to paint the meeting as an attempt by Democratic operatives to entrap Trump Jr., and his father by extension.

But the president himself nixed that plan, instead dictating his son's statement as he flew back to the United States aboard Air Force One, the Post reported.

In the statement, Trump Jr. said the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" during the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. It also noted the subject of the meeting was "not a campaign issue at the time."

Later details, including the email chain released by Trump Jr. himself, showed that not to be true. Though Veselnitskaya did bring up the subject of adoption during the meeting, it was sold to Trump Jr. as an opportunity to get political dirt on Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

The Post points out it is not a crime to mislead the press or the public, but the new revelations have administration officials concerned special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of Russian attempts to affect the election, will now have ammunition to pursue an avenue the president was involved in a coverup. Had Trump not gotten involved in the process, there would have been no need to even consider such an angle, they said.

"This was . . . unnecessary," the Post quoted one Trump adviser, who did not want to be identified. "Now someone can claim he's the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn't want you to say the whole truth."

The incident is an example of Trump taking action himself and ignoring the advice of his staff, the Post sources said. Since Trump does not view himself as guilty of anything, he does not believe he faces any legal risk for covering up.

"He refuses to sit still," the presidential adviser told the paper. "He doesn't think he's in any legal jeopardy, so he really views this as a political problem he is going to solve by himself."

Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow, told the Post, "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent."

Trump Jr.'s lawyer Alan Futerfas said he and his client "were fully prepared and absolutely prepared to make a fulsome statement" on the meeting. He added he has "no evidence" to support the theory Trump dictated his client's statement, saying it was "a communal situation that involved communications people and various lawyers."

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President Donald Trump, against the advice of his staff, personally dictated the statement his son, Donald Trump Jr., gave to The New York Times about his meeting with a Russian lawyer — a statement that was later shown to be misleading, The Washington Post reported.
lawyer, meeting, collusion, statement, Donald Trump Jr.
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2017-05-31
Monday, 31 Jul 2017 09:05 PM
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