More scandal is rocking the White House today after it was revealed by the Washington Post that President Trump personally discussed and dictated his son Donald Trump Jr.’s response to the meeting that took place with a Russian lawyer in an attempt to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton.
This “adds to a series of actions Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy,” they note.
In the statement President Trump prepared, which supposedly came from Trump Jr., he said that he and the Russian lawyer had ““primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they first met. They emphasized in the statement that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”
Now, we know those statements were misleading and purposely left out important information. And – President Trump was personally behind it, making him open to further investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is building a case on obstruction of justice on him.
“This was . . . unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers. “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.”
Peter Zeidenberg, the deputy special prosecutor who investigated the George W. Bush administration’s leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity, said that making misleading statements is seen by prosecutors as an attempt to cover up the truth.
“The thing that really strikes me about this is the stupidity of involving the president,” Zeidenberg said. “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.”
Before details got out that Trump Jr. attended the meeting due to emails he received, there were strategy discussions between Trump’s advisers and all of Trump’s personal family legal teams trying to decide the best action to take in response to the story in the media. They ended up concluding that the best strategy would be to err on the side of transparency because they thought the full story would end up emerging eventually.
But, what’s interesting is, President Trump decided to overrule that idea and directed Trump Jr.’s statement to the Times to describe the meeting as unimportant. According to the Post, “he wanted the statement to say that the meeting had been initiated by the Russian lawyer and primarily was about her pet issue – the adoption of Russian children.”
“We 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,” the statement read.
Trump Jr. went on to say, “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
The President’s judgment call reportedly “surprised and frustrated” Kushner’s lawyers. They even went as far as to ask why the president was being involved.
They then took the step of saying Kushner’s omission of the meeting was an error, and that “this meeting was with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr.”