US President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney said he knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting in which Russians were expected to share dirt on then-election rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, US media reported on Wednesday.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, son Donald Trump Jr and top campaign official Paul Manafort met at New York’s Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was offering information from the Russian government.
The president, his son, his lawyers and other administration officials have repeatedly said he did not know about the meeting until news of it broke in July last year.
Yet, CNN and NBC reported that the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, claims he was present when Donald Trump Jr told his father about the Russians’ offer to meet, and he approved it.
The Trump Tower meeting was arranged by music promoter Rob Goldstone, who reached out to Donald Trump Jr saying he had “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
Trump Jr said: “I love it,” when first offered the political “dirt” on the Democratic presidential nominee, but he has since said that no “meaningful information” was offered and the meeting focused mostly on the issue of adoptions of Russian children.
CNN quoted sources as saying that Cohen lacks evidence such as an audio recording to corroborate his account.
However, both CNN and NBC reported — citing anonymous sources — that Cohen is willing to assert his claim to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign.
Mueller has already indicted 31 people — including 12 Russian intelligence agents — for hacking the Democratic Party’s computer networks.
Cohen’s reported claim comes days after the bombshell release of a taped conversation between him and the president by CNN on Tuesday — with reports suggesting there could be more tapes.
On the recording, released by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis, Trump can be heard discussing with Cohen how to hush up allegations that he had an affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2006, and buying the rights to her story, which she had sold to the National Enquirer for US$150,000.
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