President Trump personally dictated a statement from his son, Donald Trump Jr., to the New York Times in response to the Times story revealing Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Trump and his advisers discussed how to handle the report during the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, last month. They agreed the best move was to release a statement "to get ahead of the story," reported the Post.
"They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged," the report said.
But Trump took matters into his own hands during the flight home on Air Force One. He dictated a statement from Trump Jr. that said his son mainly talked about the adoption of Russian children during the June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, according to the Post. The statement also said the subject of the meeting was not a campaign issue.
The claims about the nature of the meeting were shown to be inaccurate as more and more details about it were revealed in news reports. Trump Jr. eventually released emails showing he attended the meeting with the understanding that he would be given damaging information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
Some advisers worry that Trump's action could spell legal jeopardy, the Post reported. Although the misleading comments in the statement are not criminal, advisers to the president fear any attempt to cover up Russian contacts will draw further attention from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller is reportedly already looking into potential obstruction of justice related to former director James Comey's allegation that Trump asked him to stop the investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump added to the perception that he is trying to derail the investigation with his recent attempts to goad Attorney General Jeff Sessions into resigning. Many believe he would like to replace Sessions — who has recused himself from the Russia investigation —with someone capable of removing Mueller.
"Because Trump believes he is innocent, some advisers explained, he therefore does not think he is at any legal risk for a coverup," the Post reported. "In his mind, they said, there is nothing to conceal."
One of Trump's lawyers, Jay Sekulow gave a one sentence reply to the Post's requests for comments on the story.
"Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent," Sekulow told the Post.
Sekulow denied Trump was involved in writing the statement during a July 16 appearance on the Meet the Press.
"I do want to be clear, the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement," Sekulow said. "It came from Donald Trump Jr."
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