White House press secretary Sarah Sanders downplayed a Monday report that President Donald Trump crafted a statement issued by his son in response to the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian attorney during the presidential campaign.
“The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had,” said Sanders at Tuesday’s press briefing after stating that the statement was “true” and contained no “inaccuracy.”
On July 8, Trump Jr. responded to a New York Times story about the meeting by explaining that those in attendance “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” and that prior to the encounter, he was not aware of the identity of the person he’d been meeting with. Later statements, and additional reporting on the meeting, provided additional context, including that Trump Jr. was told that the unnamed Russian attorney had incriminating information about Hillary Clinton to share.
Two senior-level sources confirmed to ABC News a Washington Post story Monday that Trump personally dictated the July 8 statement on his son’s behalf while returning to the U.S. from the G-20 summit in Germany aboard Air Force One.
The New York Times had reported earlier in July that the president signed off on the initial statement from his son. One of Trump’s personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow, told ABC News on July 12 that Trump “wasn’t involved” in the formulation of the statement and “didn’t sign off on anything.”
While on Tuesday Sanders directly contradicted what Sekulow told ABC News in July, she did not go so far as to concede that Trump composed the statement himself.
“He certainly didn’t dictate, but … he, like I said, weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do,” said Sanders.
The press secretary deflected a follow-up question about whether the president was aware of the pretext of the meeting — that his son was told of intelligence about Clinton, to which Trump Jr. responded that if it was true, he “love[d] it” — instead reversing the premise of the story, claiming that the investigation into any connection between Russian election interference and the Trump campaign was deceptive.
“The only thing I see misleading is a year’s worth of stories that have been fueling a false narrative about this Russia collusion and … a phony scandal based on anonymous sources and, if we’re going to talk about misleading, that’s the only thing misleading about this entire…