President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate’s John Dean: Potential of Cohen flipping not ‘boding well’ for Trump Giuliani attacks Cohen over Trump Tower report: He’s a ‘pathological liar’ US military plane leaves North Korea with remains of soldiers from Korean War MORE’s former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen claims that Trump had prior knowledge of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, CNN reported Thursday.
Sources told CNN that Cohen claims that he was with Trump when Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpWatergate’s John Dean: Potential of Cohen flipping not ‘boding well’ for Trump Giuliani attacks Cohen over Trump Tower report: He’s a ‘pathological liar’ Cohen claims Trump knew of 2016 Trump Tower meeting ahead of time: report MORE told him of the offer from Russians and that Trump approved going ahead with the meeting.
CNN reported that Cohen does not have evidence to back up his story, such as audio recordings, but that he is willing to discuss it with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who is investigating any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani pushed back on the report during an appearance Thursday night on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” pointing to past denials that Trump had advance knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting.
“He didn’t know about it,” Giuliani asserted.
He also blasted Cohen during the interview, calling him a “pathological liar” days after news emerged that Cohen had secretly recorded some of his conversations with Trump.
Cohen’s attorney had provided CNN with a tape earlier this week of then-candidate Trump and Cohen discussing a payment related to a former Playboy model alleging an affair with Trump in 2006.
“He’s been lying all week. He’s been lying for years,” Giuliani said of Cohen. “I don’t see how he has any credibility.”
Cohen’s reported claims contradict statements from the president, Trump Jr. and their legal teams that Trump did not know about the Trump Tower meeting, where Russians were expected to offer dirt on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatergate’s John Dean: Potential of Cohen flipping not ‘boding well’ for Trump Cohen claims Trump knew of 2016 Trump Tower meeting ahead of time: report Senate GOP shoots down talk of impeaching Rosenstein MORE, until The New York Times reported on its existence last year.
CNN reported that Cohen, who is under federal scrutiny by prosecutors in New York, reportedly believes that telling Mueller of Trump’s knowledge of the meeting will alleviate some of the pressure he’s facing from investigators.
Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, declined to comment to CNN. (Davis is a columnist for The Hill.)
“Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and Congressional investigations,” Trump Jr.’s attorney told the network. “We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump, Jr., and on his behalf.”
Trump Jr., along with then-Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortCohen claims Trump knew of 2016 Trump Tower meeting ahead of time: report Former top Sanders adviser assisting in Manafort prosecution: report Jury selection process begins in Manafort trial MORE and current White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerCohen claims Trump knew of 2016 Trump Tower meeting ahead of time: report Overseas, media’s Trump coverage is even more skewed than in America Kushner ally lost out on administration job after background check: report MORE, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.
Music producer Rob Goldstone arranged the meeting and told Trump Jr. in an email that a “Russian government lawyer” was offering information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
Goldstone said the information was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied.
The president and his allies have repeatedly said he did not have advance knowledge of the meeting.
Trump said in July 2017 that he “only heard about it two or three days ago,” referring to the Trump Tower meeting.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has also said that Trump did not know of the meeting, as has Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow.
And Trump Jr. testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year that his father “wasn’t aware” of the meeting.
“And, frankly, by the time anyone was aware of it, which was summer of this year, as I stated earlier, I wouldn’t have wanted to get him involved in it because it had nothing to do with him,” Trump Jr. said.
The meeting has caught the eye of Mueller and lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Questions have also emerged over an initial, misleading statement about the meeting issued by Trump Jr. after the Times first reported on the meeting’s existence.
The Washington Post later reported that Trump personally helped to write the statement, which read that Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
The White House and Trump Jr. have claimed that Veselnitskaya sought the meeting under false pretenses and that she only wanted to push for the U.S. to repeal sanctions that led the Kremlin to ban the adoption of Russian children by Americans.
Trump Jr. has also called the meeting a waste of time.
Updated at 9:50 p.m.
Published at Fri, 27 Jul 2018 01:11:46 +0000