For nearly a year, the White House repeatedly has claimed that President Donald Trump did not write his son’s statement explaining why he and other campaign advisers had met with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. A new memo from his legal team now admits that this was a lie.
The July 2017 statement, purportedly from the president’s eldest son, made the claim that he, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort had met Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with close ties to Vladimir Putin, for a June 9, 2016 meeting where they “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
According to the New York Times, Trump’s legal team wrote in a January 29, 2018 memo to Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr. His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion.” The statement was written by Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow.
But last summer, Sekulow himself went on Meet the Press and said the exact opposite. Contradicting a story by the Washington Post that same day titled “Trump dictated son’s misleading statement on meeting with Russian lawyer,” Sekulow falsely averred that President Trump “was not involved in the drafting of the statement” and that it “came from Donald Trump Jr.”
"I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement" — Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, apparently lying pic.twitter.com/DMukqu6uIU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 1, 2017
Don Jr. told Congress in December that he did not communicate with his father about the statement. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed in August that the president merely weighed in, “as any father would.”
Another of Trump’s lawyers, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that the shifting explanations show why Trump shouldn’t be allowed to testify before the Special Counsel: “Our recollection keeps changing, or we’re not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption.”
Asked about shifting explanations for statement on Trump Tower meeting, Rudy Giuliani tells @GStephanopoulos:
"This is the reason you don't let the president testify. Our recollection keeps changing, or we're not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption." pic.twitter.com/Ya0dK1KenB
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 3, 2018
At the time, President Trump praised his son’s statement — the one his lawyers now admit he wrote — saying that Don Jr. “is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”