Report: Trump Aides Aboard AF1 Crafted Don Jr.’s Statement On Russian Meeting

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, June 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

A team of advisers to the President crafted Donald Trump, Jr.’s initial statement on his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, in which the eldest Trump son said that the meeting was about Russian adoption and left out the fact that he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to a Tuesday night New York Times report.

Trump Jr. revealed through emails earlier Tuesday that the rendezvous had been presented to him as a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” who had damaging information on Clinton. An email from a publicist acquainted with the Trumps noted that meeting would be part of a Russian government effort to aid the Trump campaign, and Trump Jr. enthusiastically set up the meeting.

According to the New York Times, the President’s staff debated Saturday aboard Air Force One just how transparent Trump Jr. should be about the meeting, and landed on a statement about Russian adoption. That decision required several rounds of revisions, and President Trump himself signed off on the final statement, per the report:

Ultimately, the people said, the president signed off on a statement from Donald Trump Jr. for The Times that was so incomplete that it required day after day of follow-up statements, each more revealing than the last.

The President’s team took the lead on addressing Trump Jr.’s meeting even though he is not on the White House staff. Trump Jr. instead is tasked with running Trump’s businesses and is not supposed to discuss the business with his father.

The email disclosure on Tuesday came after several days of evolving statements from Trump Jr. When the Times’ first article on the subject dropped Saturday, he claimed that it was a short meeting on the adoption of Russian children. The next day, after additional reporting from the newspaper, Trump Jr. acknowledged that he took the meeting because he believed the lawyer had information helpful to the campaign. And on Monday, he acknowledged that the lawyer had information on an opponent.

The revelations about the meeting between the Russian attorney and Trump Jr., which was also attended by Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, has reportedly roiled the White House this week.

The Washington Post reported that Trump “is enraged that the Russia cloud still hangs over his presidency and is exasperated that his eldest son and namesake has become engulfed by it.” However, Trump is more upset with press coverage of Trump Jr. than with his son himself, per the Washington Post.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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