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Donald Trump dictated son’s ‘misleading’ statement on Russia talks: Report

The subject line of the email from Trump Jr inviting Kushner and Manafort to the meeting read “Russia - Clinton - private and confidential.”

world Updated: Aug 01, 2017 22:16 IST
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Donald Trump Jr,Russia talks
Donald Trump Jr. thrusts his fist after speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.(Reuters File Photo)

US President Donald Trump is reported to have personally dictated a misleading statement about his eldest son Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with some Russians in June 2016, over-ruling advisers who had argued for full transparency believing the facts will come out.

And they did, over the next few days, as Trump Jr amended the first statement, landing himself in a situation that led to him testifying before a congressional committee conducting one of the many investigations into allegations of Trump campaign’s collusion in Russian interference in the presidential election.

Trump Jr met a Russian lawyer with links to Kremlin who had promised him information that could be damaging for Hillary Clinton and which, he had been told, was part of a larger effort to help his father in the election. Trump Jr was joined at the meeting by his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and then Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

When asked about this previously undisclosed meeting, Trump Jr said “we primarily discussed” adoptions — a ban on Americans adopting Russian children ordered by Moscow in retaliation against a US sanction on Russian violating human rights — that “was not a campaign issue at that time”.

This version of the meeting, which was only partly true and concealed the actual purpose of the meeting— to seek dirt on Clinton, was personally dictated by the president, The Washington Post reported on Monday, on his way home from the G-20 meetings in Hamburg, Germany.

That story evolved over the next few days, until Trump Jr finally acknowledged, when it became clear he couldn’t dodge any more, that he had taken the meeting after receiving a letter from the lawyer who had promised damaging information on Clinton, and he released that email exchange, just before The New York Times, which had a copy, had planned to.

While issuing a misleading statement in itself is not a crime, The Washington Post reported that Trump advisers fear it may become part of a series of his actions that could cause him and some members of his inner circle legal problems.

This may also expose them to closer scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been given charge of the FBI investigation of Russian interference and alleged collusion by Trump campaign aides.

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 09:24 IST