The Washington Post reported Monday that President Trump dictated the misleading statement that his son, Donald Trump Jr, released earlier in July about a meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian attorney. Now, the president's advisors are afraid that his involvement in crafting the statement may put him in legal jeopardy.
When the New York Times reported in July that Trump Jr. had met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya during the presidential campaign, Trump Jr. said in a statement that the meeting was primarily about a Russian adoption program. However, he later acknowledged that he actually attended the meeting to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton, thus rendering his original statement incomplete at best and factually incorrect at worst.
According to the Post, Trump advisers had initially planned to have Trump Jr. release a statement that was "truthful," so the administration could get out in front of the story. However, Trump personally intervened, dictating Trump Jr.'s statement himself while flying back from Germany on July 8, the Post reported.
Now, some of Trump's advisers are concerned that this could place the president in legal jeopardy.
“This was . . . unnecessary,” one of the president’s advisers told the post anonymously. “Now someone can claim [Trump is] the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”
In a brief statement to the Post, Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said that "apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations [in the Post's Monday report] are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent." A lawyer for Trump Jr. said that he has "no evidence" to support the allegation that Trump dictated the statement to his son.
Trump Jr. said in his original statement that he and Veselnitskaya "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up."
However, the Times later reported that Trump Jr. attended the June 2016 meeting in the hopes of obtaining damaging information from Veselnitskaya about Clinton. This was later confirmed by Trump Jr., who released the email exchange that led to the meeting and said, in a second statement, acknowledged that Veselnitskaya had said prior to the meeting that "she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton."