President Donald Trump dictated the initial statement released by his son, Donald Trump Jr., claiming that his June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer primarily addressed Russian adoption, the Washington Post reported Monday night, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.
It had previously been reported by the New York Times that Trump and his advisers drew up the statement aboard Air Force One, but the Washington Post report indicates that the President himself played a significant role in crafting the misleading statement.
In that initial statement on the meeting, Trump Jr. claimed that the discussion primarily centered on Russian adoption, even though the meeting was set up as a chance for Trump Jr. to receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. subsequently revised his characterization of the meeting, culminating in the release of emails revealing that the meeting was pitched as part of an effort by the Russian government to boost the Trump campaign.
Asked several questions about the President’s role in crafting the statement, Jay Sekulow, one of the President’s outside attorneys, told the Post, “Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent.”
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer representing Trump Jr., told the Post that he had “no evidence to support that theory” when asked about the President’s role in writing the initial statement. He told the Post that the process to craft the statement was “a communal situation that involved communications people and various lawyers.”
Discussions on how to address the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, which was attended by Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, began before any news outlets approached the Trump team about it, according to the Washington Post. Kushner’s lawyers discussed it while trying to complete his disclosure forms, prompting deliberations with the President’s aides, per the Washington Post.
Two White House aides, including Hope Hicks, worked with aides to Ivanka Trump and Kushner to push for a transparent approach, the Washington Post reported. Trump’s legal team wanted to provide the emails to Circa, a media outlet they hoped would be friendly to Trump, according to the Washington Post.
When the Times started asking the Trump team about the meeting while the President was in Germany for the G20 summit, Kushner’s team pushed for a transparent approach, the Post reported.
However, Trump overruled the aides and directed his team to craft a statement characterizing the June 2016 meeting as unimportant and claiming that the meeting was primarily focused on adoption, per the Post.
Read the Washington Post’s full report here.