The Slatest

Former Trump Spokesman Believed Hope Hicks Was Considering Obstructing Justice Over Trump Tower Meeting Statement

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and President Trump speak to reporters aboard Air Force One while departing Manila on Nov. 14, 2017.
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and President Trump speak to reporters aboard Air Force One while departing Manila on Nov. 14, 2017.
JIM WATSON/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr.’s statement to the New York Times last summer in response to a story that was about to publish regarding a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton is thought to be of particular interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The statement, which turned out to be false, was overseen by the president aboard Air Force One returning from the G20 meeting in Germany, a process that instantaneously put Trump in legal jeopardy for obstruction of justice. “It was a short introductory meeting,” the statement read. “I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.” “According to four people familiar with the discussions, Donald Trump Jr. had insisted that the word ‘primarily’ be included in the statement,” the Times reports. While lying to the media isn’t a crime, it does help establish the president and those around him were aware that the meeting constituted wrongdoing and were making a concerted effort to conceal it.

On Wednesday, the New York Times’ reporting on the events aboard Air Force One added further detail and context the writing process. At the heart of the account is Mark Corallo, who was a spokesman for Trump’s legal team until he abruptly resigned in July after just two months on the job. At the time, Corallo’s departure was chalked up to too much infighting on the Trump legal team. Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, however, suggested Corallo resigned over concerns about Trump obstructing justice. Corallo is now set to speak to Mueller’s team and, according to the Times, he plans to tell Mueller that he believed White House communications director Hope Hicks could be attempting to obstruct justice.

Mr. Corallo is planning to tell Mr. Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, according to the three people. Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting — in which the younger Mr. Trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians — “will never get out.” That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said.

Contacted by the Times Wednesday, Corallo “did not dispute” the account of his testimony, confirming the Times reporting.