Press Secretary Sanders: “The President weighed in as any father would”
Developments on Day 194 of the Trump Administration:
White House Confirms Trump Involvement in Statement on Meeting with Kremlin-Linked Envoys
The White House has confirmed that Donald Trump was involved in the drafting of a statement by his son Donald Jr. about a June 2016 meeting with three Kremlin-linked envoys to discuss material damaging Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday, “The President weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.”
Unnamed sources involved in the matter told The Washington Post, in a story published on Monday, that Trump Sr. had “dictated” the statement aboard Air Force One as he returned from the G20 summit in Germany on June 8.
Trump Sr. overruled White House advisors who wanted to issue a “truthful” statement in Trump Jr.’s name to get ahead of the revelations in The New York Times. He wrote that the meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was about “adoptions” — an indirect reference to a retaliatory step taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the US Congress imposed sanctions in 2012 over Russian human rights abuses.
But further articles in the Times established that the meeting — which also included Trump Sr.’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort — was about an offer of anti-Clinton material from Moscow, a scenario which was confirmed by Trump Jr.’s e-mail correspondence with the intermediary for Trump associate and Azerbaijani-Russian real estate billionaire Aras Agalarov.
Sanders insisted on Tuesday, “The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There’s no inaccuracy in the statement.” She maintained that the matter was “of no consequence”:
There was no follow-up. It was disclosed to the proper parties.
The Democrats want to continue to use this as a PR stunt and are doing everything they can to keep this story alive and in the papers every single day. The President, the American people, they voted America first, not Russia first, and that’s the focus of our administration.
Veselnitskaya was accompanied at Trump Tower by Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and Agalarov’s representative Irakly Kaveladze.
Before Tuesday’s White House admission, Trump Sr. lawyer Jay Sekulow had repeatedly denied that his client was involved with the Trump Jr. statement. On July 12, he said flatly in response to a question if Trump Sr. had any role, “No. That was written by Donald Trump, Jr. and I’m sure with consultation with his lawyer.”
When CNN’s Chris Cuomo followed up with the Times’ report that Trump Sr. approved the statement, Sekulow responded, “Well, they’re incorrect….Is that shocking that they sometimes make a mistake?”
Trump Makes Up Phone Calls from Mexican President and Head of Boy Scouts
Donald Trump is now making up phone calls to claim support for his policies and Presidency.
In the most recent incident, Trump said on Tuesday — as he introduced his new Chief of Staff John Kelly — that he had taken a call from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto:
As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they’re close to 80 percent stoppage. And even the president of Mexico called me — they said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment.
However, the Mexican Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Nieto “has not recently spoken to President Donald Trump over the telephone”.
On July 25, Trump pushed back a claim from The Wall Street Journal that reaction to his controversial speech to the Boy Scouts of America “seemed mixed”:
There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix….
[I] got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.
A representative of the Boy Scouts said they are unaware of any call to the White House.
Three days after Trump’s speech, complete with insults of his political opponents and a reference to a real estate developer’s sex-filled yacht parties, the head of the Scouts, Michael Surbaugh apologized and said “sincerely regret[s] that politics were inserted into the Scouting program”.