World

Trump 'dictated son's statement on meeting with Russian lawyer'

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump personally dictated a misleading statement in which his son, Mr Donald Trump Jr, said that a meeting with a Russian lawyer during last year's election was focused on adoptions, The Washington Post reported Monday.

It later emerged that during that fateful meeting in June last year, Mr Trump Jr, Mr Trump's son-in-law, Mr Jared Kushner, and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met a Russian government attorney who an intermediary claimed had incriminating information about Mr Trump's rival, Ms Hillary Clinton.

The subject line of the e-mail from Mr Trump Jr inviting Mr Kushner and Mr Manafort to the meeting read, "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential".

In his initial statement, Mr Trump Jr said the group "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" and insisted "it was not a campaign issue at the time, and there was no follow-up".

The Post said Mr Trump dictated the statement to his son while on a flight home from the G-20 summit in Germany.

Mr Trump Jr later released a series of e-mails that detailed how he had attended the meeting after being promised "very high level and sensitive information" that was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump".

Mr Trump rushed to his son's defence and lambasted what he calls a political "witch hunt."

Citing people familiar with the discussions, the Post said Mr Trump's legal team had planned to present the meeting as a potential set-up by Democrats seeking to entrap Mr Trump Jr and thus Mr Trump himself, who at the time was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

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The Post said advisers worry that the extent of Mr Trump's direct involvement in his son's response could put Mr Trump - already under fire for other efforts to undermine the Russia probe - and key advisers in legal jeopardy.

"Now someone can claim he is the one who attempted to mislead," one presidential adviser said on condition of anonymity.

"He refuses to sit still. He does not think he is in any legal jeopardy, so he really views this as a political problem he is going to solve by himself." - AFP

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