Trump fires Scara­mucci in new White House up­heaval

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump per­son­ally dic­tated a mis­lead­ing state­ment in which his son Don­ald Trump Jr said a meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion was fo­cused on adop­tions, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Mon­day. It later emerged that dur­ing that fate­ful June 2016 meet­ing, Trump’s el­dest son, his son-in-law Jared Kush­ner and then cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort met with a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney who an in­ter­me­di­ary claimed had in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion about Trump’s ri­val Hillary Clinton.

The sub­ject line of the email from Trump Jr invit­ing Kush­ner and Manafort to the meet­ing read “Rus­sia - Clinton - pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial.” In his ini­tial state­ment on the meet­ing, Trump Jr said the group “pri­mar­ily dis­cussed a pro­gram about the adop­tion of Rus­sian chil­dren,” and in­sisted that “it was not a cam­paign is­sue at the time and there was no fol­lowup.” The Post said the pres­i­dent dic­tated the state­ment to his son while on a flight home from the G20 sum­mit in Ger­many.

Trump Jr later sent shock­waves through Wash­ing­ton by re­leas­ing a se­ries of emails that de­tailed how he had at­tended the meet­ing after being promised “very high level and sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion” that was “part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr Trump.” Trump has rushed to his son’s de­fense, and lam­basted what he calls a po­lit­i­cal “witch hunt.” In de­fend­ing his son, Trump said: “I think from a prac­ti­cal stand­point most peo­ple would have taken that meet­ing... Pol­i­tics is not the nicest busi­ness in the world, but it’s very stan­dard.”

Cit­ing peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions, the Post said the pres­i­dent’s le­gal team planned to present the meet­ing as a po­ten­tial setup by Democrats seek­ing to en­trap Trump Jr and thus Trump him­self, who at the time was the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. The meet­ing with lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya has thrust Trump Jr into the cen­ter of a grow­ing scan­dal over whether Trump’s as­so­ci­ates col­luded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 elec­tion in the Repub­li­can’s fa­vor. For­mer FBI di­rec­tor Robert Mueller is prob­ing, in his ca­pac­ity as spe­cial coun­sel, the Rus­sia con­nec­tion in­de­pen­dently of the Se­nate pan­els.

‘Un­nec­es­sary’

The Post said ad­vis­ers worry that the ex­tent of Trump’s di­rect in­volve­ment in his son’s re­sponse could put the pres­i­dent-al­ready un­der fire for other ef­forts to un­der­mine the Rus­sia probe-and key ad­vis­ers in le­gal jeop­ardy. “This was... un­nec­es­sary,” one pres­i­den­tial ad­viser told the Post on con­di­tion of anonymity. “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.”

Sug­gest­ing Trump is in­creas­ingly act­ing as his own lawyer, strate­gist and pub­li­cist, the ad­viser added: “He re­fuses to sit still. “He doesn’t think he’s in any le­gal jeop­ardy, so he re­ally views this as a po­lit­i­cal problem he is go­ing to solve by him­self.” One of Trump’s at­tor­neys, Jay Seku­low, said in re­sponse to the re­port: “Apart from being of no con­se­quence, the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions are mis­in­formed, in­ac­cu­rate and not per­ti­nent.” -—AFP

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