White House press secretary Sean Spicer delivers his first statement in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017. SHAWN THEW / EPA

Spicer sticks to discredited ‘adoption’ story on Russia meeting


During his confirmation hearing last week on Capitol Hill, Christopher Wray, Donald Trump’s choice to lead the FBI, said if any campaign is contacted by a foreign government, it’d be “wise” to contact federal law enforcement officials.

“[A]ny threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any nonstate actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And yet, just this morning, the president took a very different posture. Donald Trump declared via Twitter that when top members of his campaign’s inner circle met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer and a former Soviet counterintelligence officer to obtain information about his opponent, it was a meeting “most politicians” would have gone along with. “That’s politics!” Trump declared.

So, which is it? Is Chris Wray right that campaigns should contact the FBI, or is the president right that campaigns should just see outreach from foreign adversaries as routine politics? A reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the contradiction today.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday appeared to be confused about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, claiming it was about adoptions — contradicting both Donald Trump Jr. and the president, who have both confirmed the true reason for the meeting.

During an off-camera briefing with reporters, Spicer claimed that “the president has made it clear through his tweet, and there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption,” referring to the original reason Trump Jr. gave for meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Really, “nothing”? Because we’ve all seen the email chain from Donald Trump Jr. – the subject line quite literally read, “Russia - Clinton - private and confidential ” – which made it clear that this discussion wasn’t about adoption policy. It was, as the publicly available documents have made perfectly clear, a meeting intended to allow the Russian government to provide information to the Trump campaign, which Moscow wanted to help.

To be sure, I’ve come to expect strange comments from Trump’s press secretary, but today’s exchange was bizarre, even for him. Was Sean Spicer not awake last week? Did he steer clear of the news for several days? Trump Jr. has already admitted that he welcomed Russia’s assistance and he agreed to participate in the meeting, not to discuss adoption policy, but because he’d been offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

There was “nothing … that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption”? You mean, other than the emails and public confirmations that show the exact opposite?

Russia, Scandals and White House

Spicer sticks to discredited 'adoption' story on Russia meeting