Sanders dodges questions about Trump Tower statement


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday refused to answer questions about her claim that President Trump did not dictate a statement about a critical Trump Tower meeting during the 2016 campaign — even after her earlier statement was undercut by a memo from Trump’s own legal team.

“This is a letter from the outside counsel and I would direct your question to them,” she told reporters during her daily briefing in response to questions about the discrepancies between the memo and her statement.


Sanders was grilled repeatedly about her claim in August 2017 that Trump “certainly didn’t dictate” the statement.
Over the weekend, The New York Times published a memo from Trump’s legal team directly contradicting her statement.
“You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.,” the president’s legal team wrote to special counsel Robert Mueller in January. 
“His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion.”
The shifting narrative surrounding the fallout of the Trump Tower meeting raised new questions about Sanders’s credibility. She said during a press briefing last August that Trump may have given suggestions on the statement “as any father would,” but denied that he dictated it. 
Sanders has in the past explained misstatements by telling reporters she did not have the right information at the time of her original remarks. But on Monday, she made no such claim, only referring reporters to the president’s legal team.
“I’m not going to respond to a letter from the president’s outside counsel,” she said. “We’ve purposefully walled off, and I would refer you to them for comment.”
Rudy Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team in April, said on Sunday that one of Trump’s other attorneys, Jay Sekulow, was “uninformed” when he denied last summer that Trump had anything to do with crafting the statement.
Giuliani also used the changing explanations surrounding the Trump Tower statement to bolster his argument for why the president should not agree to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.

“That’s the wisdom of not having a president testify,” he said. “It’s one thing to do it with a lawyer, it’s another to do it with your client.”

Trump has said publicly he’d be willing to do an interview with Mueller’s team in the ongoing Russia probe. However, his lawyers have warned against the idea. Giuliani said Sunday that the president’s legal team is “leaning toward” not agreeing to the interview.

Trump’s lawyers acknowledged in their letter to Mueller that the president dictated the statement as his team sought to contain the fallout from reports that his son and campaign staffers met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

In the same letter, they argued the president cannot commit obstruction of justice in the special counsel’s probe because of his constitutional authority over the investigation.

Updated at 3:22 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation Trump Tower meeting

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