President Donald Trump "didn't dictate" Donald Trump Jr.'s initial statement on his meeting with a Russian lawyer last year — but he "weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.
"The statement that Don Jr. issued is true," Sanders told reporters at the daily briefing. "There's no inaccuracy in the statement.
"The president weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.
"He certainly didn't dictate," she added when pressed further on the issue, "but he weighed in, offering suggestions, like any father would do."
The Washington Post reported Monday that President Trump personally dictated the statement his eldest son gave to The New York Times on July 8 regarding his June 2016 meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya under the guise of obtaining damaging information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. told the Times he and Veselnitskaya "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" — according to sources familiar with the conversation at Trump Tower — and that the subject of the meeting was "not a campaign issue at the time."
President Trump scripted the statement July 8 aboard Air Force One as he flew to the U.S. from Germany after the G-20 summit in Hamburg, the Post reported. The Times published its report earlier that day.
Three days later, however, Trump Jr. released emails leading up to the meeting showing he had agreed to the session in hopes of obtaining the negative Clinton information.
Trump Jr.'s brother-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser, and chief strategist Steve Bannon also attended the meeting.
"This is all discussion, frankly, of no consequence," Sanders told reporters Tuesday. "There was no follow-up."
When asked whether President Trump knew of the meeting before it occurred, she reiterated "the statement that was issued was true, and there were no inaccuracies in the statement."
She said the Times learned of the meeting "to begin with" because it was "disclosed to the proper parties."
Sanders then slammed Democrats for working with news organizations to "try to make this some story about misleading.
"The Democrats want to continue to use this as a PR stunt and are doing everything they can to keep this story alive and in the papers every single day," she said.
"The president, the American people, they voted 'America First,' not Russia first — and that's the focus of our administration.
"If you want to talk about somebody who's been tough on Russia, look at President Trump," Sanders added later. "He wants more fracking, more coal, more energy, a stronger military, a stronger defense.
"Those things aren't good for Russia. The distinctions are very clear — and you want to create a narrative that doesn't exist."
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