On Sunday, President Trump tweeted about the infamous 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that’s currently part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In the midst of his tweet storm, he threw his son Donald Trump Jr. under the bus when he admitted the meeting was set up to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Trump's tweet was in response to a Washington Post report, as well as a similar one from CNN, that claimed Trump had privately expressed concern for his son who could potentially face legal consequences for the meeting. However, before this tweet, Trump was attempting to help his son with the scandal.
Let's recap: The New York Times first obtained information on the meeting in July of 2017. While Trump was in Hamburg, Germany, for a G20 summit, The Times reached out to the White House for a comment. On Trump's Air Force One flight back to the U.S., he strategized with his aides to craft a response for Trump Jr. On July 8, Trump Jr. sent out the statement his father had dictated to The Times:
It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared [Kushner] and Paul [Manafort] 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. I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.
Trump tried to deny that he was silently helping his son when his attorney Jay Sekulow stated, "I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president." However, it soon came out that Trump dictated the statement for Trump Jr., to which Sekulow responded that he had "bad information."
However, it didn't matter who wrote Trump Jr.'s statement because on July 8, The Times reported that it was incorrect and revealed that Trump Jr. agreed to attend the meeting because he was promised dirt on Clinton. Trump Jr. then released his email exchanges with music publicist Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting with the Russians. The emails proved that The Times' report was true.
On July 11, Trump Jr. appeared on Fox News to be interviewed by Sean Hannity about the situation. In the interview, he once again admitted his real intentions with the meeting. He said, "Honestly, my takeaway when all of this is going on? Someone has information on our opponent. ... And, hey, wait a minute. I've heard about all these things, but maybe this is something. I should hear him out."
Basically, Trump Jr. threw himself under the bus almost immediately after The Times' reports came out. Yet throughout the entire fiasco, Trump continued to support his son's decision to attend the 2016 meeting and never clearly admitted to Trump Jr.'s true intentions with the meeting. At a press conference on July 13, he said:
My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer but a Russian lawyer … I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent. I've had many people —I have only been in politics for two years, but I've had many people call up — "Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or, frankly, Hillary." That's very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard where they have information and you take the information.
Then, on July 17, he tweeted:
On Sept. 7, Trump Jr. testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee and once again admitted that he went to the meeting because, ‘Rob suggested that someone had official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary Clinton." Trump Jr. could be charged with a felony after this testimony.
In July 2018, a year after The Times broke the news about the 2016 meeting, Mueller began examining Trump’s Twitter feed as a part of his investigation. Now, as Mueller is actively watching Trump’s every move on Twitter and Trump Jr. is facing potential felony charges, Trump decided to change his tone when discussing his son’s involvement in the meeting. He does call Trump Jr. a "wonderful son" ... just before he completely throws him under the bus. This is the first time Trump has clearly stated, "the meeting was to get information on an opponent." He does claim the meeting was legal—doubtful—but he also focuses on saving himself when he says, "I did not know about it."
So, why is Trump deciding to undermine his son after supporting him for a year? Trump Jr. is a sinking ship. Overall, the meeting was likely unlawful, Trump Jr. has admitted his wrongdoing to Mueller, Trump Jr. could be charged with a felony and Trump is initiating his escape plan. He is done playing the supportive father role, and his new goal is to get as far away as possible from the meeting and Trump Jr. It’s business as usual for him, even if it is a strategic move against his own son. Following the tweet, Trump’s lawyers reportedly begged him to stop tweeting about the 2016 meeting.