In a White House press briefing on Aug. 1, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to confirm an explosive Washington Post report which insinuates that President Donald Trump had direct involvement in son Donald Trump Jr.'s Russia email scandal. The report alleges that Trump dictated his son's initial July 8 statement to the New York Times, which claimed that the June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyers was primarily about adoption and was in no way campaign related.
That statement later turned out to be misleading, as Trump Jr. released an email chain showing that Russian officials were seeking to give the campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton -- but that didn't stop Sanders from defending the president and his family.
"The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There's no inaccuracy in the statement," Sanders said in today's press briefing. She said of the statement,
[President Trump] certainly didn't dictate. But he weighed in, offered suggestions like any father would, based on the limited information that he had.
Sanders said it was something any father would do for his child.
While the love of a parent certainly means that you do things for your child you wouldn't otherwise dream about, it's safe to assume that that probably stops short at misleading the American public about possible collusion with a foreign nation, and potentially even committing obstruction of justice. It's a flimsy excuse at best to play the parent card.
More importantly, however, Sanders gave soft confirmation that the president was, in fact, involved in misleading the public with that initial statement.
She also said that this is a nothing story being kept alive by "biased" left-leaning news media.
This is all discussion, frankly, of no consequence. There was no follow up, it was disclosed to the proper parties, which is how The New York Times found out about it to begin with. The Democrats want to continue to use this as a PR stunt and are doing everything they can to keep this story alive and in the papers every single day. The president, the American people, they voted America first, not Russia first, and that's the focus of our administration. [...] The only thing I've seen misleading is a year's worth of stories that have been fueling a false narrative of this Russia [sic] collusion ... that's the only thing misleading I've seen in this entire process.
The idea that the statement wasn't misleading is demonstrably untrue. The July 8 statement, which WaPo alleges President Trump himself dictated on the way back from the G20 Summit and Sanders says contains no inaccuracies, says that the meeting "primarily" discussed adoption, and made no mention of promises about info on Clinton. Trump Jr. himself released the e-mail chain, which directly contradicts that notion. When told, in the e-mail chain, that Russian lawyers were looking to furnish him with dirt on Clinton, Trump Jr. wrote back, "I love it."
Additionally, The New York Times apparently only found out about the meeting through sources familiar with Jared Kushner's amended disclosure forms. The original story in the Times is disturbing, in part, because the meetings were previously undisclosed.
Her statement that the president didn't dictate but rather offered suggestions, stands to be confirmed.
But whether or not he wrote the statement himself or helped his son write it -- the president was involved, to some degree, in misleading the public and the press. That, in and of itself, is shocking news. But hey, the White House isn't quite three-kids-in-the-morning chaotic according to Sanders, so we're still good.