President Donald Trump personally dictated a misleading statement in which his son Donald Trump Jr said a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 election was focused on adoptions, The Washington Post reported Monday.
It later emerged that during that fateful June 2016 meeting, Trump's eldest son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Russian government attorney who an intermediary claimed had incriminating information about Trump's rival Hillary Clinton.
The subject line of the email from Trump Jr inviting Kushner and Manafort to the meeting read "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential."
In his initial statement on the meeting, Trump Jr said the group "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children," and insisted that "it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no followup."
The Post said the president dictated the statement to his son while on a flight home from the G20 summit in Germany.
Trump Jr later sent shockwaves through Washington by releasing a series of emails that detailed how he had attended the meeting after being promised "very high level and sensitive information" that was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump."
Trump has rushed to his son's defense, and lambasted what he calls a political "witch hunt."
Citing people familiar with the discussions, the Post said the president's legal team planned to present the meeting as a potential setup by Democrats seeking to entrap Trump Jr and thus Trump himself, who at the time was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.