In response to New York Times reporting that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign, President Donald Trump dictated a statement, later shown to be misleading, in which his son Donald Trump Jr. said the meeting in June 2016 was not related to his father’s presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported on Monday evening.
Trump Jr. released emails earlier in July that showed he eagerly agreed last year to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow’s official support for his father. The New York Times was first to report the meeting.
The Post, citing multiple people with knowledge of the situation, said that advisers agreed that the original strategy in response to the Times’ reporting was to issue a truthful statement ahead of the story, but then Trump personally decided to have the statement say Trump Jr. had met with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to discuss adoption of Russian children by people in the US.
Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, the Post reported, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”
U.S. investigators are probing whether there was collusion between the Kremlin and Trump’s Republican presidential campaign.