Trump lawyers say he 'dictated' statement on Trump Tower meeting, contradicting past denials

In a confidential letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, President Donald Trump's legal team acknowledg...

Posted: Jun 3, 2018 4:09 PM
Updated: Jun 3, 2018 4:10 PM

In a confidential letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, President Donald Trump's legal team acknowledged for the first time that Trump "dictated" the first misleading statement put out about his son's controversial 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.

"You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.," the letter said, according to The New York Times, which published a copy of it. "His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion."

The acknowledgment was tucked away in the letter, which largely focused on defending Trump from a potential subpoena for testimony and asserted broad executive powers to avoid a high-stakes interview with Mueller. The letter, which CNN previously reported on, was signed by Trump's attorneys at the time, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow. Dowd left the legal team in March, while Sekulow continues representing the President.

The misleading statement, issued in July 2017 to The New York Times, obfuscated the true nature of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, which was attended by Donald Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser, and a group of Kremlin-tied Russians.

One of those Russians, lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, brought up the Magnitsky Act at the meeting, a 2012 American law punishing Russian human rights violators that she has lobbied extensively to overturn. She reached out to Trump's team after he was elected to try to lobby on the Russian sanctions, CNN has reported.

While the premise of the Trump Tower meeting was for the Russians to deliver damaging information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the statement initially put out in Trump Jr.'s name said the participants "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" and omitted mention of Clinton.

After the initial statement came out, news outlets reported Trump was involved in preparing the statement. Some reports said he helped draft it, others said he personally "dictated" the words. Trump Jr., meanwhile, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in private testimony in September, released last month, that he didn't speak to his father about the statement, but that the President "may have commented through Hope Hicks," the then-White House aide, and that some of those comments might have made it into the statement.

In their public responses to the news reports, however, Sekulow and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied Trump's role.

The letter revealed on Saturday puts to bed the question of Trump's involvement, but it doesn't erase the previous denials from the record. Here are those examples.

Trump lawyer Sekulow, CNN interview, 7/12/17: "That was written, no that was written by Donald Trump Jr. and I'm sure with consultation with his lawyer. That wasn't written by the president."

Sekulow, ABC interview, 7/12/17: "The president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G20. The statement that was released Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr., I'm sure in consultation with his lawyers. The President wasn't involved in that."

Sekulow, NBC interview, 7/16/17: "The President was not - did not - draft the response. The response came from Donald Trump Jr. and - I'm sure - in consultation with his lawyer. ... Let me say this - but I do want to be clear - that the President was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr.

Sekulow, statement to the Washington Post, 7/31/17: "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, daily press briefing, 8/1/17: "He certainly didn't dictate, but he -- like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 578494

Reported Deaths: 9202
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion798821282
Lake43601664
Allen31380537
Hamilton27675303
St. Joseph26409369
Elkhart23873336
Vanderburgh18192211
Tippecanoe16999116
Porter14183158
Johnson14120277
Hendricks13560236
Madison10312209
Vigo10297171
Clark9952128
Monroe8933105
Delaware8638129
LaPorte8589153
Kosciusko777375
Howard7712136
Warrick624990
Hancock621995
Bartholomew616094
Floyd5971105
Wayne5811155
Grant5716108
Dubois533570
Boone523167
Morgan501485
Marshall487084
Henry483262
Cass464959
Noble453956
Dearborn443343
Jackson410145
Shelby394376
Lawrence374172
Clinton359838
Gibson348556
DeKalb333063
Montgomery329150
Knox323339
Harrison317242
Miami305043
Steuben300740
Adams291635
Ripley287145
Wabash286345
Whitley286324
Huntington278757
Putnam278046
Jasper274933
White262038
Daviess255671
Jefferson242738
Fayette239248
Decatur237382
Greene229259
Posey225626
Wells225146
LaGrange222061
Scott212837
Clay212432
Randolph204940
Jennings188635
Sullivan185831
Spencer176917
Fountain175125
Washington170216
Starke169241
Jay160521
Fulton156829
Owen155536
Carroll150115
Orange146333
Rush145618
Vermillion141633
Perry141327
Franklin139333
Parke12718
Tipton126232
Pike111325
Blackford105122
Pulaski93636
Newton87820
Brown84428
Benton83010
Crawford7229
Martin68013
Warren6427
Switzerland6035
Union6033
Ohio4547
Unassigned0372

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 807293

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin95508704
Cuyahoga80262964
Hamilton59783436
Montgomery40858396
Summit32488697
Lucas29495575
Butler29100225
Stark24048388
Warren18471135
Lorain17563207
Mahoning16430334
Lake14941134
Clermont14703103
Delaware1349574
Licking12353132
Trumbull12096297
Fairfield1184280
Greene11338132
Medina10815164
Clark10334261
Wood9742153
Allen9355126
Miami867373
Portage8628104
Richland8604111
Marion7231112
Tuscarawas6987172
Columbiana6922124
Pickaway689050
Wayne6599162
Muskingum648939
Erie5729117
Hancock529088
Ross518287
Scioto508753
Geauga469955
Darke450589
Ashtabula431467
Union422327
Mercer419485
Lawrence417051
Sandusky413262
Auglaize407059
Shelby404621
Seneca404354
Huron399738
Jefferson391565
Belmont378140
Putnam359370
Washington357039
Athens35469
Madison331128
Knox329022
Ashland322538
Fulton319043
Defiance311476
Crawford306769
Preble306434
Brown289617
Logan284828
Ottawa275534
Clinton272741
Williams265757
Highland255618
Jackson250743
Guernsey234625
Champaign233727
Fayette218929
Morrow21754
Holmes215562
Perry215317
Henry206147
Hardin200932
Coshocton194517
Van Wert193744
Wyandot186948
Gallia186226
Adams160815
Pike160116
Hocking157423
Carroll143216
Paulding137521
Noble116138
Meigs99021
Monroe93827
Harrison8428
Morgan75826
Vinton64013
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 25°
Angola
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 25°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 26°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 25°
Lima
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 30°
Cloudy Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events