WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated about the encounter last year was misleading.Mr. Trump made the comment in a tweet on Sunday morning…
WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated about the encounter last year was misleading.
Mr. Trump made the comment in a tweet on Sunday morning that was intended to be a defense of the June 2016 meeting and his son Donald Trump Jr.’s role in hosting it. The president claimed that it was “totally legal” and of the sort “done all the time in politics.”
But the tweet also served as an admission that the Trump team had not been forthright when Donald Trump Jr. issued a statement in July 2017 saying that the meeting had been primarily about the adoption of Russian children. Donald Trump Jr. made the statement after The New York Times revealed the existence of the meeting.
A few days later, Mr. Trump posted a tweet similar to the one he wrote on Sunday morning: “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!” But his administration at the time was sticking to the adoption story line, with his press secretary, Sean Spicer, saying later that day there was no evidence that anything but that topic had been discussed during the meeting.
report in The Washington Post that he was worried about the legal exposure for Donald Jr., who had been promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to hold the meeting with the Russian lawyer. While he said that the meeting was legal, he also distanced himself from it, repeating his assertion that he knew nothing about it at the time.
The Times published emails between Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, a British-born former tabloid reporter and entertainment publicist who helped arrange it.reported in July 2017 that Mr. Trump had in fact done so. And earlier this year, Mr. Trump’s lawyers acknowledged in a memo to Mr. Mueller that the president had dictated the statement.
On Sunday, Mr. Sekulow admitted that his earlier statement had been erroneous, saying on ABC News’s “This Week” that “I had bad information at that time and made a mistake in my statement.”
In the interview, Mr. Sekulow said that it was not clear what laws the president’s son and the other campaign officials at the Trump Tower meeting might have violated when they met with the Kremlin-connected lawyer.
“Well, the question is, how would it be illegal?” Mr. Sekulow said. “The question is what law, statute or rule or regulation’s been violated? Nobody’s pointed to one.”
The president and his legal advisers have in recent weeks ratcheted up their attacks on Mr. Mueller personally. In other tweets on Sunday, Mr. Trump again called the inquiry a “Rigged Witch Hunt” and singled out Mr. Mueller by name — a step he had avoided until recently.
“Why aren’t Mueller and the 17 Angry Democrats looking at the meetings concerning the Fake Dossier and all of the lying that went on in the FBI and DOJ?” Mr. Trump said, once again attacking his own law enforcement agencies.
“This is the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country. Fortunately, the facts are all coming out, and fast!” he added.
Mr. Sekulow echoed the president in the interview on Sunday. Asked about the Trump Tower meeting, he repeatedly steered his answers back to attacks on Mr. Mueller’s investigation.
“Let’s be honest with the American people, there are irregularities in this investigation the likes of which we have not seen,” Mr. Sekulow said, mimicking one of the president’s favorite phrases.