In an attempt to defend his son Donald Trump Jr. on Sunday, President Donald Trump may instead have incriminated him—and himself.
Responding to a Washington Post report that he is increasingly concerned about his eldest son’s legal exposure, the president denied that claim in a tweet Sunday morning:
Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
Both Trump and Trump Jr. have at times in the past denied that the purpose of the June 9, 2016, meeting was to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but the president has now flatly acknowledged it. Despite the limitations of the medium, the president packed a great deal of potential trouble into less than 280 characters. First, he seems to proceed from the assumption that by declaring the purpose legal, that makes it so, when in fact the acknowledgement points to the ways the meeting may have broken federal laws.
Second, by contradicting his earlier claims, the president again underscores his prior dishonesty. This is not just a matter of public trust: The changing accounts also get at accusations that the president obstructed justice.
Finally, the tweet is riddled with internal contradictions. If the president is unconcerned about his son, why is he tweeting angrily about the story? And if what happened was entirely legal, why is he so quick to deny that he knew about the meeting?