The White House backed up a misleading statement issued by Donald Trump Jr. about his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, saying Monday the president weighed in 'as a father' to help craft it.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back on a report that the president personally dictated the statement – but made no effort to deny that he participated in its crafting – before going on a long harangue about the media's constant focus on the Russia story.
It also contradicted a June statement by the president's attorney that he played no role in the creation of the statement.
'The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There’s no inaccuracy in the statement,' she said. 'The president weighed in as any father would based on the limited information that he had.'
Asked about a report that Trump dictated the statement, Sanders – who said she didn't participate in the crafting of the statement – said: 'He certainly didn't dictate, but, you know, like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do.'
The Washington Post reported that the president dictated a misleading statement issued by Donald Trump Jr. about his ill-fated meeting with Russian lawyers last year, reporting that it was the president who told Donald Jr. to claim in his statement that the subject of the June 2016 meeting was the ban on US adoptions in Russia.
According to the report, Donald Jr. and people he sought advice from wanted to come clean and admit that the premise of the meeting was for him to receive campaign dirt on his father's election opponent Hillary Clinton.
The latest White House take diverges from a July statement by Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow.
Sekulow told NBC's 'Meet the Press' on July 16: 'I do want to be clear ― the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement,' he said.
US President Donald Trump attends a Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2017
Sanders said there were 'no inaccuracies' in Trump Jr.'s statement - which stated that participants 'primarily discussed' a program about adoption of Russian children.
Sources who are familiar with the matter said the president intervened and told his son to claim that he took the meeting innocently and to tell The New York Times it was 'not a campaign issue at the time,' according to the Post.
Trump allegedly gave the instruction before flying back from the G-20 summit on July 8.
According to the Post, the president's lawyers, lawyers working for Jared Kushner and senior White House aides including Hope Hicks, deliberated about how to handle the story as more requests for information about the meeting came to them.
They reportedly decided on a transparent approach and, sources said, Kushner's team even advocated sharing the email chain that Donald Jr. would later reveal.
'It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.
'I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.'
They were 'overruled' by the president, as the Post puts it, when The New York Times approached the administration on the story and Donald Jr.'s statement claiming the meeting was about adoptions, was sent out.
A member of the president's legal team denied the claims on Monday