Richard Painter, ethics lawyer under George W Bush, says presidents participation in Trump Jr commentaries indicates blockage of justice

The White House has confirmed Donald Trump played a role in drafting a misleading statement about his sons meeting with a Russian lawyer.

On Tuesday, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, contradicted Trumps attorney, Jay Sekulow, who said the president had had no involvement.

The statement that Don Jr issued is true, Huckabee Sanders said at the daily press briefing. There is no inaccuracy in the statement. The chairwoman weighed in as any father would.


Donald Trump Jr



31 December 1977 in Manhattan


After brief stint bartending in Aspen, he moved back to New York to join the Trump Organization, supervising Trump Park Avenue and other projects. He took an interest in other family enterprises in later years, appearing as a guest adviser on “his fathers” reality television indicate The Apprentice and as a magistrate of various Miss USA pageants.

High point

Just before the news of his meeting with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, he was riding high as executive director of The Trump Organization and one of the presidents closest confidants.

Low phase

On Tuesday 11 July 2017, he produced the most damning evidence yet in the FBIs investigation of Russian meddling in the US election, propelling himself on to the international stage with emails presenting he knowingly met with a Russian lawyer claiming to have dirt on “his fathers” rival.

He says

I suppose I likely was a lot of my fathers natural security, or ego, or whatever I can be my own person and not have to live under his shadow. I definitely look up to him in many ways Id like to be more like him when it comes to business but I believe Im such a different person, its hard to even compare us. His run persona is kind of what he is. I have a run face, and then theres my private life, Trump Jr to New York magazine, 2004.

They say

Its a do-anything-you-can-to-win world that hes part of, and his eagerness to meet with this lawyer, who was very explicitly described as having information that came from Russian government sources theres no mystery there. Theres no veil. Theres not even one veil. Her name wasnt mentioned but everything else was very explicit and he leaps at it. Thats all part of this all-that-matters-is-winning, theres winning and theres losing, thats it. Thats the value system and in that style, he very much echoes his father. Gwenda Blair, Trump biographer, to the Guardian, 12 July 2017.

Thank you for your feedback.

Trump weighed in based on the limited information that “hes having”, she said.

The White House was rocked on Monday night by another revelation in the investigation into potential ties between his campaign and Russia. The Washington Post first reportedthat the president had dictated a statement which dismissed the importance of a session between his son Donald Trump Jr, top campaign aides Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016.

On Tuesday, Huckabee Sanders said: He certainly didnt dictate. But he weighed in, offered suggestions, like any father would do.

The statement, which was issued by Donald Trump Jrs lawyer, required repeated updates as detailed information on the meeting leaked out.

Initially, Trump Jr said he and the Russian lawyer mainly discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children. Further reporting revealed that Trump Jr had, in fact, taken the meeting after having been offered incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, forcing the presidents son to release the email exchange leading up to the meeting.

In the emails, Trump Jr was explicitly told of an effort by the Russian government to aid Trumps campaign, and that Veselnitskaya could offer highly sensitive information about Clinton. If its what you say, I love it, Trump Jr replied.

The White House has insisted the president had no knowledge of the meeting, despite being in Trump Tower that same day.

The latest accusations about the session in Trump Tower dealt another blow to an already beleaguered chairwoman, placing him under the microscope as federal examiners look into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the presidential election. It also raised fresh questions for the justice department, some legal expert said, as special attorney Robert Mueller examines whether Trump stymie justice.

When you start having both a reason that he himself or his children could be implicated and that hes purposely trying to conceal proof it adds to that element of the crime.

The Post report also portrayed Jared Kushner, Trumps son-in-law and a senior adviser in the White House, as one of the lone supporters of transparency. Kushner, who privately met investigators on Capitol Hill last week, attended the meeting, but has claimed to have had no prior knowledge of its purpose despite being forwarded the email exchange leading up to it.

Rangappa said Kushner, unlike his father-in-law, was playing the smartest game in the White House.

You never find him talk, “youve never” see him tweet. Hes doing everything his lawyers tell him to do, Rangappa said.

Remember that the burden is on the government if they want to prove something against you, she added. The less you say, and the less information you give out, the more onus youre putting on the government to have to come up with other evidence that you did know[ about the motives behind the meeting ].

Hes not dedicating Mueller a single morsel beyond what he has to.

The Russia investigation has loomed over the first six months of Trumps presidency, and impeded his ability to legislate a legislative programme. On Twitter, the president has repeatedly sought to discredit the investigation, and he prompted the appointment of Mueller by firing the FBI director James Comey and acknowledging Russia was part of his calculation. In recent weeks, Trump has focused his ire on Jeff Sessions, stopping short of firing the attorney general but tormenting him over his decision to recuse himself from supervising the FBIs Russia investigation.

Michael Steel, an aide to former House speaker John Boehner, said the presidents inability to escape the Russia accusations has proved one of his biggest hurdles, including the failure to land a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly called Obamacare.

I suppose Republican on Capitol hill are desperately are seeking to make progress on important conservative policy, Steel said. But its stimulated much harder seemingly every other day by fresh revelations from the White House or the campaign.

The past two weeks brought farther turmoil to the White House, with the resignation of the press secretary Sean Spicer and the oust of the chief of staff Reince Priebus. Both men objected to Trumps decision to hire Anthony Scaramucci as the White House communications director.

A profanity-laced tirade by Scaramucci against Priebus and Steve Bannon, Trumps chief strategist, was made public last week and laid bare the bitternes infighting within the West Wing. Scaramucci was fired on Monday, following the appointment of John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, as Trumps new chief of staff.

Republicans have hoped Kelly, a former general, will bring military discipline to the White House. But many fear the biggest obstacle in the White House is not its staff, but the president himself.

Its impossible to run an organization as large and complicated as the executive branch of the United States without people around the president having his consistent trust and subsistence, Steel said. You cant get big things done, people cant trust you to work on their behalf in a manner that is thats helpful if the president is constantly undermining the people around him.

Painter said Kelly might be able to root out some of the more controversial figures in the White House. But to prevent the president from firing off unfiltered and unvetted statements in 140 characters or less would require a sea change.

Two thirds of the problem is the boss, Painter said, this constant great efforts to derail the investigation and publicly tweeting about it. It constructs it was like he has something to hide.

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