White House: Trump worked on Don Jr.’s Russia meeting statement ‘as any father would’

Gabby Kaufman
Reporter

The White House downplayed a new Washington Post report that President Trump personally dictated his eldest son’s misleading statement about meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign.

During her Tuesday briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintained that Donald Trump Jr.’s statement was truthful and that the president had merely “weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.”

“Look, the statement that Don Jr. issued is true,” Sanders said. “There’s no inaccuracy in the statement.” She added: “This is all discussion, frankly, of no consequence.”

As the New York Times prepared to publish a report last month confirming Trump Jr. arranged a June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, the younger Trump issued a statement saying the attendees “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” He was forced to issue additional statements as more and more details about the meeting leaked out, eventually releasing emails conceding that he attended the meeting hoping to get Russian government dirt on campaign rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, has repeatedly denied that the president had any involvement in Trump Jr.’s initial misleading response to the meeting. The Times reported last month that the president’s advisers drafted the statement and that the elder Trump approved it.

“The president didn’t sign off on anything,” Sekulow said during a recent “Good Morning America” appearance, denying the Times reporting on the matter. “The statement … was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I’m sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn’t involved in that.”

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