The Washington Post reported on Monday that President Trump "personally dictated" his son Don Jr.'s initial statement about the meeting he attended with a Russian lawyer to obtain opposition research on Hillary Clinton. In the time since, comments made by Trump's lawyer that appear to contradict the Post's sources have resurfaced.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders commented on the report during Tuesday's briefing, saying, "The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had."
The statement in question claimed, misleadingly, that Don Jr.'s meeting last summer was primarily held to discuss adoption policy. Later, the younger Trump decided to publish an email chain that clearly showed he agreed to the meeting in order to receive research on Clinton. If the Post report is correct, Trump "personally dictated" a highly misleading statement, but if Sanders' claim that he merely "weighed in" is a closer description of the truth, he could have "weighed in" to drive the statement in any direction.
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post highlighted claims made by Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, in early July after the story broke.
"I do want to be clear — that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement," Sekulow said.
He also stated, "The president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20 [summit], the statement that was released on Saturday, was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I'm sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that."
That obviously contradicts the Post's report that Trump "personally dictated" the statement. But it technically does not contradict Sanders' account of the situation. Trump could have "weighed in" without being "involved in the drafting" process or "[signing] off on anything." It's a tedious distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.
If the president's personal lawyer went on national television programs and actively lied about Trump's involvement with the statement -- and that involvement included dictating a deceptive release -- then there is obviously a problem. But at least for now, Sekulow and Sanders are consistent with one another. The question is whether those accounts are consistent with the truth.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.