Three weeks ago, one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers vigorously denied that the commander in chief had anything to do with Donald Trump Jr.’s statement about a secret meeting with a Russian lawyer. However, the validity of those comments was questioned on Monday when The Washington Post reported that Trump had personally dictated the response his elder son would use to address the media.
The president’s lawyer Jay Sekulow appeared on a series of Sunday news shows last month to defend the commander in chief following reports that Trump Jr. had met with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya after being promised damaging information about 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
At least twice Sekulow denied that the president had anything to do with the statement his elder son had issued. The statement caused a firestorm in the media because it was so different from those Trump Jr. had made in the previous 24 hours.
“I do want to be clear ― the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement,” Sekulow told NBC’s Chuck Todd on July 16. “It came from Donald Trump Jr. ... It was, in fact, from him and I believe it was his lawyer was in consultation.”
Four days earlier, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sekulow said “the president didn’t sign off on anything” and “wasn’t involved” with the statement.
Donald Trump intervened in his team’s planned response to the Trump Jr. revelation and crafted it himself while aboard Air Force One, according to The Washington Post.
“This was . . . unnecessary,” a Trump’s adviser told the Post. “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.”
Many Twitter commentators pointed out the paradox between Sekulow’s words and the Post’s reporting, which cited several people with knowledge of the event.
On July 11, one day before Sekulow first hit the airwaves, The New York Times had reported that the president signed off on Trump Jr.’s original statement. It was only after the Times followed up in preparation for another article that Trump Jr. issued a second (conflicting) statement.
Sekulow issued a one-line statement in response to the latest story in the Post. “Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate and not pertinent,” it reads.
Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Trump Jr., did not comment specifically on the report. But he told the Post he had “no evidence to support that theory” of the president intervening to write the statement. He added drafting a statement was “a communal situation.”