No one will ever find out

Another This Looks Bad item for Mueller’s note pad: last July, that Times story about the Russia meeting at Trump Tower, the scramble on the flight home from Yurrup to put out a statement by Team Trump saying we talked about adoption and nothing else.

The latest witness to be called for an interview about the episode was Mark Corallo, who served as a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s legal team before resigning in July. Mr. Corallo received an interview request last week from the special counsel and has agreed to the interview, according to three people with knowledge of the request.

Keep that bit about resigning in July in mind; it’s important.

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.

Her lawyer says oh no she didn’t.

Before publishing the Times asked the White House some questions while Trump was at the G-20 meeting.

Times reporters submitted a list of 14 questions about the meeting to the White House and to the lawyers of the Trump campaign aides who attended the meeting. Among the questions: What was discussed, and what did the attendees think was going to be discussed?

President Trump’s aides received the list midflight on Air Force One on the way back from the summit meeting and began writing a response. In the plane’s front cabin, Mr. Trump huddled with Ms. Hicks. During the meeting, according to people familiar with the episode, Ms. Hicks was sending frequent text messages to Donald Trump Jr., who was in New York. Alan Garten, a lawyer for the younger Mr. Trump who was also in New York, was also messaging with White House advisers aboard the plane.

Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s personal lawyer, was not included in the discussion.

The president supervised the writing of the statement, according to three people familiar with the episode, with input from other White House aides. A fierce debate erupted over how much information the news release should include. Mr. Trump was insistent about including language that the meeting was about Russian adoptions, according to two people with knowledge of the discussion.

What was the fierce debate about? I’m guessing the issue was the riskiness of making affirmative claims that could be demonstrated to be false?

the statement that had been cobbled together aboard Air Force One was sent to The Times. The statement was in Donald Trump Jr.’s name and was issued by Mr. Garten.

“It was a short introductory meeting,” it 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 published, and then another, slightly different statement appeared in another source.

The dueling statements, both of which withheld the true purpose of the meeting, created tension at the White House.

Accusations began flying that the botched response made an already bad situation worse. Ms. Hicks called Mr. Corallo, according to three people who relayed his version of events to The Times. She accused him of trafficking in conspiracy theories and drawing more attention to the story.

American capitalism in action.

The conference call with the president, Mr. Corallo and Ms. Hicks took place the next morning, and what transpired on the call is a matter of dispute.

In Mr. Corallo’s account — which he provided contemporaneously to three colleagues who later gave it to The Times — he told both Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks that the statement drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire because documents would eventually surface showing that the meeting had been set up for the Trump campaign to get political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians.

There, that was my guess (via months of following this story, so not much of a leap) – don’t make affirmative claims that are susceptible to being shown to be lies.

According to his account, Ms. Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out” because only a few people had access to them. Mr. Corallo, who worked as a Justice Department spokesman during the George W. Bush administration, told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said — either she was being naïve or was suggesting that the emails could be withheld from investigators — but also that she had said it in front of the president without a lawyer on the phone and that the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Contacted on Wednesday, Mr. Corallo said he did not dispute any of the account shared by his colleagues but declined to elaborate further.

They’re crooks and they’re incompetent. I guess given the first we should rejoice at the second.

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