The White House admitted Tuesday that President Donald Trump “weighed in” on the misleading statement released by his eldest son in response to revelations that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016.
“The statement that Don Jr. issued is true,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday. “There’s no inaccuracy in the statement.”
“The president certainly didn’t dictate but, you know, he weighed in, offered suggestions like any father would do,” Sanders continued, adding that Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer was “of no consequence.”
“There was no follow-up. It was a disclosed to the proper parties,” she said. “The Democrats want to continue to use this as a PR stunt and are doing everything they can to keep this story alive and in the papers every single day. The president, the American people, they voted America first, not Russia first, and that’s the focus of our administration.”
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Sanders’ comments came on the heels of a Monday Washington Post report that Trump dictated a statement, later shown to be misleading, in which his son said the meeting he had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was not related to his father’s presidential campaign.
According to the Post, the president “personally dictated the statement in which Trump Jr. said he and the Russian lawyer had ‘primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.’ ”
Emails later released by Trump Jr. showed he eagerly agreed to meet the woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
On Tuesday, Sanders appeared to contradict Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, who on Monday again denied that the president helped draft his son’s statement.
“Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent,” Sekulow said in a statement to the Post.
Sekulow issued a similar denial in a July 16 interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, saying: “The president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement.”