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Trump lawyers challenge Mueller probe in letter

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.

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 5:17 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2018 5:17 PM

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly refused Monday to account for the discrepancy between contradictory statements she and President Donald Trump's lawyers made about the President's role in dictating the 2016 Trump Tower meeting response.

"You're referencing a letter that came directly from outside counsel and I would refer you to them," Sanders said Monday during the White House briefing. "I'm not going to get into a back and forth."

Trump's personal attorneys said in a January letter to special counsel Robert Mueller obtained by The New York Times last week that Trump "dictated a short but accurate response to The New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr."

Sanders, meanwhile, said last August that Trump "certainly didn't dictate" the initial misleading statement Trump Jr. released about his meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

"He weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do," Sanders said in August.

After the briefing, Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow said Monday he stands by the assertion in the legal team's letter to the special counsel claiming the President "dictated" the Trump Jr. statement.

"The statement in the January letter reflects our understanding of the events that occurred," Sekulow said in a statement to CNN.

Sanders was pressed by three different reporters Monday about the contradictory statements and each time she referred questions to the President's personal attorneys.

Asked how the public can trust her comments from the podium, Sanders demurred.

"Once again, I can't comment on a letter from the President's outside counsel," she said.

The issue was just one of several relating the special counsel's investigation and the handling of it by the President's personal attorneys.

Sanders also rejected questions about whether the President would rule out pardoning himself after the President's attorneys suggested in the same letter that Trump could terminate the special counsel's inquiry or "exercise his power to pardon."

Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said over the weekend that Trump could pardon himself, though he said he would almost certainly be impeached if he did.

"Thankfully, the President hasn't done anything wrong and wouldn't have any need for a pardon," Sanders said, not directly addressing the question.

She declined to say whether Trump agrees with Giuliani's comment that Trump would be immediately impeached if he pardoned himself.

Sanders also insisted that the President does not believe he is "above the law."

"Certainly not," she said when asked. "Certainly, nobody is above the law."

She added that Trump "has not done anything wrong."

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