Trump Jr. insists his father did not dictate false statement about June 2016 meeting
Developments on Day 231 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Jr. Talks to Senate Investigators About Meeting with Kremlin-Linked Envoys
Donald Trump Jr. admits to Senate investigators that he lied about the subject of a June 2016 meeting with three Kremlin-linked envoys.
Trump Jr. told the investigators for the Judiciary Committee that the discussion was about a Russian offer of material damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, declaring the importance of learning about Clinton’s “fitness” to become President.
In his initial statement after the revelation of the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, Trump Jr. said the conversation with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was about “adoptions”, a reference to President Vladimir Putin’s prohibition of US adoptions of Russian children after sanctions passed by the US Congress in 2012.
But Trump Jr. changed his account as more information was published, and his e-mails at the time confirmed that he welcomed the meeting — also attended by Donald Trump Sr.’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump Sr.’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, as well as a Kremlin-linked lobbyist and financier — to consider the anti-Clinton material.
But Trump Jr.’s statements, in five hours of questioning on Thursday, may only open up further conflicts over possible deceptions — extending to Donald Trump Sr.
Trump Jr. said he did not speak to his father about the initial draft statement because he did not want to involve him in something he “knew nothing about”. But first-hand sources say Trump Sr. dictated the draft as he and his aides conferred aboard Air Force One, returning from the G20 summit in Germany on July 8.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating that episode, with any intervention by Trump Sr. for a false statement possibly constituting obstruction of justice.
Trump Jr.: I Was Going to Consult Lawyers
Trump Jr. said in his prepared remarks that he was “conflicted” about the offer by Veselnitskaya of anti-Clinton information and that he intended to consult with lawyers about the use of any material:
To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out. Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration.
That declaration, in contrary to his statement in July, indicated that Trump Jr. always believed there were legal issues about the acceptance of any information.
He insisted, “The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out not to be about what had been represented.”
Trump Jr. tried to blame any impropriety on a chaotic campaign rather than any consideration of collusion with Russia.
Trump Jr. said in March that he never met with Russians on behalf of the campaign. That statement was demolished four months later when The New York Times began publishing details of the Trump Tower meeting, arranged between Trump Jr. and representatives of Aras Agalarov, a billionaire Azerbaijani-Russian real estate developer who has long been connected with Donald Trump Sr.
Trump to New-Found Democratic Friends: “The Press Has Been Incredible”
Donald Trump is enthusiastic about his new-found cooperation with Democratic leaders in Congress, despite the agitation of Republicans over Trump’s sudden shift.
On Wednesday, Trump — while the Republican leaders in the Senate and House, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, looked on in the White House meeting — abruptly agreed to the proposal of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for a raising of the debt ceiling and emergency Government funding until December 15.
Without the agreement, the Federal Government faced shutdown on October 1 because the Trump Administration’s first budget has not been passed.
On Thursday, Trump called Schumer and Pelosi to celebrate, “The press has been incredible,” noting that even right-wing Fox has been positive.
Later Trump said on TV that he would turn the debt into a lasting bipartisan alliance. He again pulled back from his Administration’s suspension on Tuesday of the Obama-era “Dreamers” program for young undocumented immigrants, saying that he wanted a legislative deal over Deferred Action for Childhood Rivals.
Trump told reporters:
I think we will have a different relationship than we’ve been watching over the last number of years. I hope so. I think that’s a great thing for our country. And I think that’s what the people of the United States want to see. They want to see some dialogue. They want to see coming together to an extent.
Pelosi said that, during their call, Trump emphasized his desire for DACA legislation, blocked by Republicans for years before Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2013:
He said, “I want to sign it. Let’s do it fast. Let’s do it soon.” And I said, “All the better. We don’t want to take six months, and we don’t even want to take three months.”
Trump fulfilled Pelosi’s request for a reassuring message on Twitter to the DACA beneficiaries:
For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2017
Trump’s declarations walked back Administration guidance, following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on Tuesday, that about 800,000 Dreamers should prepare to leave the US as their permits expire:
The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States — including proactively seeking travel documentation — or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.
Still, Schumer was cautious:
We’ll see. I think it would be much better for the country and much better for Donald Trump if he was much more in the middle and bipartisan rather than siding with the hard right. I think he got a taste of it yesterday. We’ll see if it continues. I hope it does.
Meanwhile, Republicans fumed. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said:
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi now have most of the cards for when we get to December. This is an embarrassing moment for a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican administration.