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Trump dictated misleading statement on son's meeting with Russian – report

President Donald Trump personally dictated the statement his son gave on his talks with a Russian lawyer during the election campaign, US media report

1 August 2017, 8:12am
US President Donald Trump has defended his son over the talks with the Russian lawyer
US President Donald Trump has defended his son over the talks with the Russian lawyer
US President Donald Trump dictated a statement, later shown to be misleading, in which his son Donald Trump Jr said a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 was not related to his father's presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Details of the meeting emerged indicating that during the meeting, Trump's eldest son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Russian government attorney who an intermediary claimed had incriminating information about Trump's rival Hillary Clinton.

In his initial statement on the meeting, Trump Jr said the group "primarily discussed a programme about the adoption of Russian children," and insisted that "it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow-up."

But earlier in July, Trump Jr released emails 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 Washington Post said Trump advisers discussed the new disclosure and agreed that Trump Jr should issue a truthful account of the episode so that it "couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged." The Washington Post said the president's legal team planned to present the meeting as a potential setup by Democrats seeking to entrap Trump Jr and thus Trump himself, who at the time was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the deliberations, said the President, who was flying home from a G20 summit in Germany on 8 July, changed the plan and "personally dictated the statement” his son had made.

It said the statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared to publish the story, emphasised that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

Trump has rushed to his son's defense, and lambasted what he calls a political "witch hunt."

In defending his son, Trump said: "I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting... Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard."