TRUMP ROLE in re­lease called that of a dad

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - COM­PILED BY DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE STAFF

WASH­ING­TON — The White House de­fended Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­volve­ment in the state­ment his son is­sued about his meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, say­ing the state­ment was true and that the pres­i­dent was sim­ply act­ing as a fa­ther.

“The state­ment that Don Jr. is­sued is true. There’s no in­ac­cu­racy in the state­ment,” said White House spokesman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders. “The pres­i­dent weighed in just as any fa­ther would based on the lim­ited in­for­ma­tion that he had.”

“This is all dis­cus­sion, frankly, of no con­se­quence,” San­ders added.

The com­ments con­firmed that Trump par­tic­i­pated in the draft­ing of the state­ment on Air Force One and con­tra­dict past state­ments from Trump’s at­tor­neys deny­ing that he had any in­volve­ment in it.

“The pres­i­dent was not — did not — draft the re­sponse,” Trump’s at­tor­ney Jay Seku­low said on Meet the Press in an in­ter­view July 16. “The re­sponse came from Don­ald Trump Jr. and — I’m sure — in con­sul­ta­tion with his lawyer.”

While San­ders de­nied that Pres­i­dent Trump “dic­tated” the state­ment, she ac­knowl­edged that he “weighed in and of­fered sug­ges­tions” on it. The state­ment said that in the 2016 meet­ing, Trump Jr. and other par­tic­i­pants “pri­mar­ily dis­cussed a pro­gram about the adop­tion of Rus­sian chil­dren.” That state­ment turned out to be mis­lead­ing.

Emails ob­tained by The New York Times and sub­se­quently re­leased by Trump Jr. later showed that the meet­ing was pitched to Trump’s old­est son as one about com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion about Hillary Clinton. That dis­clo­sure prompted Trump Jr. to cor­rect his pub­lic state­ments.

In ad­di­tion to Trump Jr., the pres­i­dent’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, and cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort also at­tended the meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer. Kush­ner did not ini­tially dis­close the meet­ing on the gov­ern­ment forms he was re­quired to fill out in or­der to join the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Yet San­ders said Tues­day that the meet­ing “was dis­closed to the proper au­thor­i­ties.”

Pres­i­dent Trump worked with aides on the state­ment on Air Force One while re­turn­ing to the U.S. from the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, Ger­many, on July 8, ac­cord­ing to aides fa­mil­iar with the state­ment. He in­sisted that the state­ment de­scribe the meet­ing as unim­por­tant and pri­mar­ily about adop­tions, the aides said.

In re­al­ity, Trump Jr. had en­thu­si­as­ti­cally agreed to at­tend the meet­ing after being promised dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on Clinton as part of the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to help his fa­ther’s cam­paign.

Kush­ner, mean­while, told some con­gres­sional in­terns Mon­day that the Trump cam­paign couldn’t have col­luded with Rus­sia be­cause the team was too dis­or­ga­nized to co­or­di­nate with a for­eign gov­ern­ment.

The re­marks came in re­sponse to a ques­tion about spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion and whether the Trump cam­paign worked with Moscow.

For­eignPol­icy.com first re­ported Kush­ner’s re­marks, which were in­tended to be off the record.

“They thought we col­luded, but we couldn’t even col­lude with our lo­cal of­fices,” Kush­ner said, ac­cord­ing to the web­site.

A Demo­cratic con­gres­sional aide knowl­edge­able of the meet­ing con­firmed the ac­cu­racy of the re­marks and oth­ers that Kush­ner made. The aide spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to freely de­scribe the talk.

Kush­ner also told the in­terns that the White House doesn’t know where Mueller’s in­quiry is headed. He said he didn’t think he’d em­bark on a ca­reer in gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics after Trump’s vic­to­ri­ous White House bid, so he didn’t care­fully track his contacts with for­eign of­fi­cials, which is re­quired in­for­ma­tion on a se­cu­rity clear­ance ap­pli­ca­tion.

“The state­ment that Don Jr. is­sued is true. There’s no in­ac­cu­racy in the state­ment. The pres­i­dent weighed in just as any fa­ther would based on the lim­ited in­for­ma­tion that he had.” — Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, White House spokesman

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Abby Phillip of

The Wash­ing­ton Post and by Richard Lardner of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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