A new wrinkle in the ongoing Russia investigation appeared late on Monday, casting more doubts on the facts surrounding a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and several Trump campaign members with up to 5 people, including a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. The latest information circles a statement released by Trump Jr. to the New York Times as details began to trickle out about the meeting. As it turns out, this statement was not from the president’s son but reportedly was dictated by the elder Trump himself on Air Force One.
According to a report in The Washington Post, Trump dictated the statement thought to be from Donald Trump Jr. regarding his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and stating that the meeting “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” This was proven to be misleading once the president’s son released his own emails regarding the meeting, sparking more and more information to trickle out in the days that followed.
The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy…
“This was . . . unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. “Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”
The Washington Post indicates that Trump is possibly acting as his own “lawyer, strategist and publicist” while disregarding those he has hired to do those jobs. Trump also reportedly doesn’t feel that he is in any legal trouble, though the sources for The Post report that even the implication is trouble within Trump’s circle of advisers.
Both Trump and Trump Jr.’s attorneys refused to address the allegations head on, with Jay Sekulow sending The Washington Post a one sentence statement calling the report “misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent,” while Alan Futerfas elaborated a bit more on Trump Jr.’s behalf according to The Washington Post:
Futerfas, told The Post that he and his client “were fully prepared and absolutely prepared to make a fulsome statement” about the meeting, what led up to it and what was discussed.
Asked about Trump intervening, Futerfas said, “I have no evidence to support that theory.” He described the process of drafting a statement as “a communal situation that involved communications people and various lawyers.”
The Post also points out that Sekulow had been denying any involvement from President Trump in drafting the statement on two separate television appearances earlier in July. Sekulow appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on July 12, stating firmly that the president “didn’t sign off on anything” and wasn’t involved. He shared a similar take a few days later during an appearance on Meet The Press, telling host Chuck Todd that “the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement.”
As former deputy special prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg tells The Post, these new developments are just fuel for Robert Mueller’s investigation and could be viewed as an effort to throw off the investigation.
“I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement” — Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lawyer, apparently lying pic.twitter.com/DMukqu6uIU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 1, 2017
(Via The Washington Post)