President Donald Trump personally “dictated” a misleading statement about his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer — allegedly to discuss adoption rules — one day after discussing the same issue with Vladimir Putin.
Trump himself confirmed that he had discussed the topic during one of their previously undisclosed meetings July 7 during the summit, during a wide-ranging New York Times interview, reported Business Insider.
“The meal was going toward dessert,” Trump told the newspaper. “I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes — just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”
The initial statement, which was reportedly written with Trump’s input on Air Force One following the G20 summit, came after reports revealed Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the presidential campaign.
That first statement neglected to mention Trump Jr. had been promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton by a Russian lawyer who was working in the U.S. to overturn the Magnitsky Act — which placed some Putin cronies under financial sanctions.
Putin — who may be the richest man in the world but subject to the sanctions — was so angered by the 2012 law that he suspended the adoption of Russian children in the U.S.
Trump Jr. eventually posted emails setting up the meeting that showed he was aware the information about Clinton had come from the Russian government and was intended to aid his father’s campaign.
He and brother-in-law Jared Kushner, who also attended the meeting along with campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have each claimed they were mystified in the Russian attorney’s interest in adoption — which is intrinsically linked to the Magnitsky Act.
Trump claims he only recently learned of the June 9, 2016, meeting, but his legal team was aware by the third week of June 2017.
The president also dismissed findings by U.S. intelligence services about Russian hackers using claims he picked up from Putin during one of their G20 meetings.
White House aides said Trump emerged from the meeting saying that Putin had told him Russian hackers were too good to get caught breaking into DNC servers — although former FBI director James Comey said their efforts appeared intended to be detected to help “freak out” Americans.