In the release, the Russia meeting was framed as a discussion about the adoption of Russian children ‘that was not a campaign issue at the time’. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters
President Trump personally dictated the press statement issued in the name of his eldest son that misleadingly downplayed the significance of a 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, a new report alleged on Monday night.
According to the Washington Post, Trump personally intervened to prevent senior White House advisers from issuing a full and truthful account of the meeting on 9 June 2016 in which Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort came face-to-face with four Russians. One of the Russian visitors was the well-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The report, based on multiple though largely anonymous sources that included the president’s own advisers, has the potential to cause political, and even legal, trouble for the White House because it draws Trump himself much closer into the fray over the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a lightning rod in the Russian affair.
Shunning the guidance of lawyers, and overturning the view apparently reached by Kushner and his team of advisers that a full and frank accounting should be made, Trump reportedly dictated a statement on board Air Force One as he was flying back to Washington from the G20 summit in Germany. As would soon become apparent, it gave a very partial and distorted account of events.
The Trump Tower meeting has proved to be one of the most toxic pieces of information to emerge so far in the billowing investigation into possible ties between Trump associates and Russia in the Kremlin’s efforts to skew the presidential outcome in favor of the Republican nominee. The special counsel leading the investigation, Robert Mueller, is understood to be looking closely at the event and has reportedly asked the White House to preserve all documents relating to it.
The new details of the president’s role in what turned out to be a major communications fiasco come on the day that his current communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci, was dismissed from the White House after barely 11 days. The blunt removal was made on the first day of the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, who has vowed to introduce the kind of discipline that the West Wing has been sorely lacking.
The day began shortly before 5.30am with Trump tweeting “No WH chaos!” and ended with him saying: “A great day at the White House”. But as the Washington Post’s forensic deconstruction of the framing of the Trump Tower meeting shows, the president himself has the capacity to destroy even the best-laid plans, underlining the task now facing his new chief of staff.
According to the Post, senior White House officials together with the circle around Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had spent days rehearsing various ways to address the Trump Tower meeting publicly.
Kushner’s team was reported to have decided that it was better to “err on the side of transparency” because the whole truth would eventually come out.
President Trump, however, appeared to have seen things differently.
Read the complete story on The Guardian newspaper web site.