The White House admitted on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump helped craft his son's misleading statement about a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
The White House's statement casts doubt on Trump's assertions he had no knowledge of his son Donald Junior's meeting with the Russian lawyer. But his spokeswoman has admitted he was involved in trying to cover it up.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had "certainly didn't dictate (the statement), but ... he weighed in, offered a suggestion like any father would do." The admission came after the Washington Post reported that Trump had dictated the notorious statement.
"The statement that was issued was true and there were no inaccuracies in the statement," Sanders said.
Emails revealed that Donald Junior, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort had met with Kremlin-connected officials in June 2016 hoping to receive damaging information on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
A British middleman had pitched the meeting as an opportunity to obtain "very high level and sensitive information" as "part of Russia and its government's support" for the now-president. The team met with government-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian real estate mogul Ike Kaveladze and Rinat Akhmetshin, who has denied long-standing allegations that he works for Russian intelligence.
After initial details of the meeting were first released Donald Junior released a statement saying the meeting "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children."
Trump reportedly dictated the statement on Air Force One as he flew back from the Hamburg G20 summit. The misleading statement was released despite advisers reportedly agreeing that Trump Junior should issue a truthful account of the episode so that it "couldn't be repudiated later if the full details emerged."
Trump's lawyers claimed he was not involved in the meeting or its aftermath as Trump accused the media of a political "witch hunt."
The Russia meeting is now central to a federal investigation.
aw/jr (AP, Reuters, AFP)