The team working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller is focusing on President Trump's role in crafting a response to a New York Times article about the meeting his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked attorney and former Soviet intelligence officer, and whether Trump "knowingly" made a "false statement," three people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The federal investigators are trying to determine what Trump knew about the meeting, held in Trump Tower and also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The younger Trump initially told the Times in a statement that the meeting was "short" and was only about Americans adopting Russian children, but in further reporting, the Times revealed that the meeting was actually set up in order to discuss damaging information on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, as shown in emails Trump Jr. ended up releasing minutes ahead of the Times.
When pressed, the White House said President Trump "weighed in" on his son's first response to the Times while flying back to the U.S. from Germany, while The Washington Post reported that Trump "dictated" it. One person familiar with Mueller's strategy told NBC News that even if "Trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement, it could be useful to Mueller's team to show Trump's conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges." The White House did not respond to NBC News' requests for comment.