President Donald Trump reportedly dictated the now-known-to-be misleading statement Donald Trump Jr. gave following revelations that he and other members of Trump’s presidential campaign met in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who promised to deliver them damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
The meeting is now seen as the first indication that Trump’s campaign was at least willing to accept help from Russian officials during the campaign.
The Washington Post reports that the message Trump Jr. released was in fact molded by Trump as he was flying home from Germany on Air Force One.
Here’s what you need to know:
Plans changed: The original plan, according to the Post’s report, was for Trump Jr. to release a statement ahead of the New York Times article being released that would be “truthful.” That plan changed once Trump got involved.
Trump got involved: Aboard Air Force One, Trump dictated a statement that his son and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” which was later found to be misleading.
Vulnerable to cover-up claims: Trump directly involving himself in his son’s meeting amid Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential obstruction of justice and Russian interference in Trump’s campaign leaves Trump “needlessly vulnerable to allegations of a cover up,” the Post reported. “This was… unnecessary,” an adviser of Trump told the Post. “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.”
More scrutiny: By directly involving himself and attempting to mislead the public and news media, advisers told the paper, Trump could open himself up to more scrutiny by Mueller as it appears that he was attempting obscure or hide information about his campaign and Russian contacts. “The thing that really strikes me about this is the stupidity of involving the president,” Peter Zeidenberg, a deputy special prosecutor who investigated issues during George W. Bush’s presidency, told the paper. “They are still treating this like a family-run business and they have a PR problem. …What they don’t seem to understand is this is a criminal investigation involving all of them.”
You can read the complete Washington Post report here.