A focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the suspected illegal activities of president Donald Trump, his embattled administration and campaign staff is zeroing in on a meeting in the Trump Tower in 2016 with a Russian who promised “dirt” on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
At the center of the probe is a quickly drafted statement by Donald Trump Jr., drafted on Air Force One on flight home in Europe by his father and president.
In recent months, prosecutors for Mueller have questioned several White House officials on Trump’s direct involvement in writing the statement and news release that attempted to divert attention away from the real purpose of the meeting.
Special Counsel prosecutors believe the real purpose of the meeting — to get dirt on a campaign opponent in a clandestine meeting with a representative of an enemy nation — proves Trump not only had knowledge and participation in a coverup but also shows direct collusion between the campaign and Russia to “subvert the political process” in the 2015 Presidential election,
The New York Times Wednesday reported new details on the meeting and noted that:
What is already clear is that, as Mr. Trump’s aides and family members tried over 48 hours to manage one of the most consequential crises of the young administration, the situation quickly degenerated into something of a circular firing squad. They protected their own interests, shifted blame and potentially left themselves — and the president — legally vulnerable.
Mueller is calling in Mark Corallo, former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, to talk about a previously undisclosed conference call with Trump and White House communications director Hope Hicks, who reportedly said emails written by Donald Trump Jr. “will never get out” and collaborate the collusion by the president’s son and others in the campaign.
The issue became a priority consideration for Trump and his team as they flow home on Air Force One from the G20 summit meeting in July. The White House cancelled a scheduled conference call with reporters was cancelled as the president and his advisors huddled on the presidential 747 to deal with the damaging knowledge of the meeting in the Trump meeting during the election.
Trump drafted the statement in longhand and told Hicks to “clean it up” and they came up with a claim that the meeting had nothing to do with the campaign or Clinton but was a scheduled event to discuss Russian adoption policies.
Hicks sent frequent text messages to Trump Jr. in New York while Trump said the “story” about the meeting would say it was about Russian adoptions.
Trump’s direct involvement in drafting the statement provides a path that displays the president misleading the public and government officials about the meeting and attempting to obstruct justice by directing preparation of a false statement about a key meeting.
A lawyer for Hicks Wednesday issued a statement denying she said the emails would “never come out” but did not deny other details of the event on Air Force One.
The statement, collaborated by former Trump legal team spokesman Corallo led to his advising everyone to “stop talking about the matter” because they were on a phone call without a lawyer present and it would not be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Corallo called Hicks “either naive or suggesting the email might be withheld from investigators.”
Corallo shared his concerns with then White House chief strategist Steve Bannon before leaving the job. Bannon, later quoted in the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” expressed concerns about obstruction of justice by the president.
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