US President Donald Trump personally dictated his son’s “misleading” statement regarding Trump Jr’s meeting with a Russian lawyer that took place in June 2016.
A report in the Washington Post has cited senior members of the administration who have knowledge of the conversation. If true, this would have serious implications for the President.
In June 2016, Trump Jr met with Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone. The meeting was also attended by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor at the White House and then chairman of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort.
Nearly a year later, details regarding this meeting were published in a report from the New York Times. At the time, Trump Jr released a statement noting, “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up. I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
It was only after subsequent reporting from New York Times, did Trump Jr acknowledge that he attended the meeting with hopes of getting information inimical to Hillary Clinton. He also released emails confirming the same.
There is an ongoing Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation probing whether Trump campaign members colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential elections.
Jared Kushner has already testified in front of the Congress in closed-door meeting where he maintained his innocence. Trump Jr too has said that his actions amounted to only “opposition research,” which is common in a campaign trail.
However, not everyone agrees.
Michael Hayden, former CIA Director has publicly noted that this meeting pointed to “soft collusion”.
The president himself has said that he had no knowledge of the meeting until much later.
According to the story in Washington Post, which was also confirmed by ABC News, the original plan in response to the New York Times story was to draft a more truthful statement. However, it was due to Trump’s intervention, the statement was amended to divulge only the discussion regarding Russian adoption. The statement was dictated by Trump as he flew back from the G-32 Summit in the Air Force One.
Responding to the story, Jay Sekulow, an attorney for the President, issued a statement, saying, "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent."
Our assessment is that the credibility of the Trump White House is tumbling by the day. The president’s approval keeps falling. He has suffered several political setbacks in domestic policy issues.