On the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany, President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril.The article from the Washington Post (via the Star Tribune) might be misleading as well, but we'll leave that aside for a moment. There's more:
The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.
But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.
Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared a story, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”
The claims were later shown to be misleading.
Over the next three days, multiple accounts of the meeting were provided to the media as public pressure mounted, with Trump Jr. ultimately acknowledging that he had accepted the meeting after receiving an e-mail promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.We're assuming a lot of facts that aren't in evidence yet. We don't know if Trump did anything of the sort. We know what we know because of anonymous sources. Let's guess who this one is:
The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.
“This was … unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. “Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”Who's the source? Sean Spicer? Reince Preibus? Someone else? Someone who was there? Someone who wasn't? We don't know.
My suspicion? It's not particularly important who is actually doing the leaking. Trump is a big believer in loyalty, but he's not in an environment where loyalty is rewarded. He's not in New York any more. He really can't trust anyone, even in his inner circle. Anything he says can be used against him, and almost certainly will be. He is an outsider and the folks in Washington won't accept anyone who messes with their rice bowls.
The next few weeks will be crucial. Trump has to change how he operates. And if he's got a counterattack planned, he'd better get on with it now.