President Donald Trump weighed in on the statement released after it was revealed his son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer in 2016, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.
“The statement that Don Jr. issued is true,” Sanders said. “There’s no inaccuracy in the statement. The President weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.”
Sanders said the matter was “of no consequence.”
“There was no follow-up. It was a disclosed to the proper parties,” she said. “The Democrats want to continue to use this as a PR stunt and are doing everything they can to keep this story alive and in the papers every single day. The President, the American people, they voted America first, not Russia first, and that’s the focus of our administration.”
The New York Times initially reported in early July that Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya along with Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, who has a senior role in the White House, and Paul Manafort, who was campaign chair at the time, in Trump Tower in June 2016. Trump Jr. responded with a statement claiming the meeting was “primarily” about adoption and its relation to US sanctions on Russia under the Magnitsky Act.
But shortly after that first report, it was shown the initial statement was misleading. The Times reported that Trump Jr. accepted the meeting in hopes that it would yield damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and Trump Jr. said it had not. After the Times obtained an email chain showing an acquaintance, Rob Goldstone, offered Trump Jr. a meeting where he could obtain information as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign, Trump Jr. posted the emails online.
Jay Sekulow, one of the attorneys representing Trump in the Russia investigation, previously denied on CNN that his client was involved with crafting a misleading statement about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting.
Asked directly if the President was involved in the statement from Trump Jr., in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” July 12, Sekulow said, “No. That was written by Donald Trump, Jr. and I’m sure with consultation with his lawyer.”
Cuomo followed up citing the Times reporting that the President approved the statement, and Sekulow said that story was wrong. “Well, they’re incorrect,” he said, later adding, “is that shocking that they sometimes make a mistake?”
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Eli Watkins and Eugene Scott contributed to this report.