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  • Friday 23rd October 2020

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  • Trump ‘dictated’ son’s statement on Russian lawyer meeting

    President Donald Trump personally dictated the statement his son gave on his talks with a Russian lawyer during the election campaign, US media report.

    It said Donald Trump Jr and the lawyer had mostly discussed the adoption of Russian children in June 2016.

    Mr Trump Jr later revealed he had agreed to meet her after being told he could receive damaging material on Hillary Clinton.

    President Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia.

    The Senate, House of Representatives and a special counsel are all investigating alleged Russian interference in the presidential election which took the form of attempts to undermine Mrs Clinton – a claim denied by the Kremlin.

    The reports about Mr Trump Jr’s statement came in the midst of further turmoil at the White House.

    White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was fired on Monday after fewer than 10 days in the post.

    The former Wall Street financier had drawn criticism after calling a reporter to give a profanity-laced tirade against his colleagues.

    Legal concerns

    Reports that President Trump had himself dictated the statement his son issued about the meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya first emerged in the Washington Post. It cited multiple sources.

    ABC News later quoted “two senior-level sources” as confirming this claim.

    President Trump’s advisers initially agreed that Mr Trump Jr would release a statement that “couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged”, the Post says.

    But it says that decision was reversed as President Trump was flying home from the G20 summit in Germany on 8 July.

    In the statement, Mr Trump Jr said the meeting had “primarily discussed a programme about the adoption of Russian children”, not campaign issues.

    The statement was issued to the New York Times, as it was preparing its story on the meeting.

    Mr Trump Jr later acknowledged that he had agreed to meet after being told Kremlin-linked information about Mrs Clinton would be offered during the talks.

    He also released the email exchange that brought about the meeting.

    Neither President Trump nor his son have commented on the latest media reports.

    The Washington Post says some of the president’s advisers fear the extent of the president’s intervention could place him and some of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.

    What do the emails reveal?

    Mr Trump Jr received an email from an intermediary, British music publicist Rob Goldstone, promising documents from Russia that would incriminate Mrs Clinton.

    At that time, his father was the presumptive Republican nominee and heading towards an election fight against his Democratic rival.

    The meeting was reportedly arranged by Russian businessman Aras Agalarov and his son Emin, a pop star who was managed for a time by Mr Goldstone.

    One email from Mr Goldstone said the information they had been promised was “obviously very high-level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump”.

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