A White House con­tra­dic­tion

Trump helped draft his son’s mis­lead­ing state­ment on his meet­ing with Rus­sians.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Noah Bier­man noah.bier­man@la­times.com

WASH­ING­TON — The White House ac­knowl­edged Tues­day that Pres­i­dent Trump “weighed in as any fa­ther would” in help­ing draft a mis­lead­ing state­ment for Don­ald Trump Jr. last month about his meet­ing with Rus­sians dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

By the ac­knowl­edg­ment, White House Press Sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders seemed to con­firm the gist of a Wash­ing­ton Post story, pub­lished late Mon­day, that Trump dic­tated the state­ment for his son while aboard Air Force One, over­rul­ing ad­vi­sors who wanted a fuller, more can­did ex­pla­na­tion of the June 2016 meet­ing in Trump Tower.

San­ders’ com­ments in ef­fect re­futed Trump’s lawyer and fre­quent spokesper­son, Jay Seku­low, who said two weeks ago on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “the pres­i­dent was not in­volved in the draft­ing of the state­ment.” Seku­low said much the same on ABC’s “This Week.”

Four days af­ter Trump Jr. is­sued his ini­tial, in­ac­cu­rate state­ment on July 8 about the 2016 meet­ing, his fa­ther sug­gested to re­porters he was largely in the dark about it, and as­sumed his son and the son’s lawyers wrote the state­ment. “I only heard about it two or three days ago,” Trump said. He also praised his son for his “trans­parency” on the is­sue.

The ini­tial state­ment for Trump Jr., writ­ten on the pres­i­dent’s plane, said that the younger Trump and a Rus­sian lawyer “pri­mar­ily dis­cussed a pro­gram about the adop­tion of Rus­sian chil­dren” and their meet­ing was un­re­lated to the cam­paign.

San­ders said Tues­day that “the state­ment that Don Jr. is­sued is true. There’s no inac­cu­racy in the state­ment.”

Yet Trump Jr.’s emails showed oth­er­wise. The emails, which he re­leased last month as the New York Times planned to pub­lish them, re­vealed that he came to the meet­ing with at­tor­ney Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya not to talk about adop­tions but on an ac­quain­tance’s as­sur­ance that she was a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment lawyer who had “of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion” that would “in­crim­i­nate” Hil­lary Clin­ton, “and be very use­ful to your fa­ther.”

The emails fur­ther said the in­for­ma­tion was “part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump.”

“If it’s what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. re­sponded to his email cor­re­spon­dent, Rob Gold­stone, a mu­sic pro­moter with busi­ness deal­ings in Rus­sia.

Also copied on some of the emails to and from the younger Trump were Jared Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent’s son-in-law and ad­vi­sor; and Paul Manafort, Trump’s cam­paign chair­man at the time. Both men ac­com­pa­nied Trump Jr. to the meet­ing, which in­cluded other Rus­sians.

Trump Jr. and the White House have main­tained that noth­ing came of the meet­ing. In that spirit, San­ders said Tues­day that “this is all dis­cus­sion frankly of no con­se­quence.”

“There was no fol­low-up,” she added. “It was dis­closed to the proper par­ties.”

Sen. Mark R. Warner of Vir­ginia, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, one of the pan­els that is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion with the Trump cam­paign, said on CNN on Tues­day that the rev­e­la­tions would prompt more ques­tions of Trump Jr. and Kush­ner.

“I’ll let any ra­tio­nal in­di­vid­ual make a judg­ment,” Warner said. “But it seems a bit strange, the pres­i­dent of the United States comes in and drafts this state­ment that is just fac­tu­ally wrong.”

Evan Vucci As­so­ci­ated Press

IN AC­KNOWL­EDG­ING Pres­i­dent Trump “weighed in” on Don­ald Jr.’s state­ment about his meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer, the White House con­tra­dicted Trump’s lawyer, who said “the pres­i­dent was not in­volved.”

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