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Trump Apparently Dictated His Son’s “Misleading” Statement About That Russia Meeting

These days, nothing out of Trumplandia is surprising, even major news that breaks after hours that would bring down any other administration. Fresh from The Washington Post is the revelation that Trump was personally involved—nay, responsible—for the contents of Don Jr.’s initial, wholly inaccurate statement about How I Met Your Russian Lawyer.

Remember that first claim about how Jr.’s meeting with Russians at Trump tower was about adoption and ultimately inconsequential? Yeah, the false one! That was Trump’s doing. The hits, they just keep landing on our body politic.

There’s no way I can do justice to the deeply reported intricacies of The Washington Post report, which you must read in full. And in terms of the scandals, upheavals, speeches so inappropriate the Boy Scouts rebuke them, hirings, firings, and legislative failures that have happened since, the issue of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting during the campaign with Russian lawyers and a pantheon of government-connected figures who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton is a couple of weeks old—so in Trump years, almost a century ago. (In Trump years, I’m dead.)

Even so, the Post’s revelations are a bombshell, because they show how personally and hands-on Trump is involved with Russian matters as they concern his family and his Presidential campaign. The primary takeaway from this is that, despite the advice from many advisors who thought transparency was the way to go re: Donnie Jr’s. meeting, Trump Sr. insisted that what must initially be released was misleading.

Here’s the TL;DR essentials from the Post article, “Trump dictated son’s misleading statement on meeting with Russian lawyer:”

The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.

But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.

Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

The claims were later shown to be misleading.


The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.

And also this (Reince, is that you? Give Bob Mueller a call. I hear he’s a terrific conversationalist):

“This was . . . unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. “Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”

Now why would Trump do that?

Although misleading the public or the news media is not a crime, advisers to Trump and his family told The Washington Post that they fear any indication that Trump was seeking to hide information about contacts between his campaign and Russians almost inevitably would draw additional scrutiny from Mueller.

Trump, they say, is increasingly acting as his own lawyer, strategist and publicist, often disregarding the recommendations of the professionals he has hired.


“He refuses to sit still,” the presidential adviser said. “He doesn’t think he’s in any legal jeopardy, so he really views this as a political problem he is going to solve by himself.”


Prosecutors typically assume that any misleading statement is an effort to throw investigators off the track, Zeidenberg said.

“The thing that really strikes me about this is the stupidity of involving the president,” Zeidenberg said. “They are still treating this like a family-run business and they have a PR problem. . . . What they don’t seem to understand is this is a criminal investigation involving all of them.”

Please somebody save us!!! @Canada, you still up?

The president directed that Trump Jr.’s statement to the Times describe the meeting as unimportant. He wanted the statement to say that the meeting had been initiated by the Russian lawyer and primarily was about her pet issue — the adoption of Russian children.

Air Force One took off from Germany shortly after 6 p.m. — about noon in Washington. In a forward cabin, Trump was busy working on his son’s statement, according to people with knowledge of events. The president dictated the statement to Hicks, who served as a go-between with Trump Jr., who was not on the plane, sharing edits between the two men, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

Relatedly, this is also how I draft fanfiction with friends using Google Docs. They were probably also using Google Docs on Air Force One. Without two-factor authentication to login.

It’s fine. Everything is fine.

(via The Washington Post, images: K.C. Green / Gunshow)

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.