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Giuliani in May: If Trump knew about June 2016 Russian meeting then, would make sense if he forgot

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Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani.
Ronen
Zvulun/Reuters


  • In May, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy
    Giuliani said that if the president knew about the
    controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians
    and campaign officials at that time, it might have later
    slipped his mind.
  • On Thursday, CNN reported that Michael Cohen, Trump’s
    former longtime lawyer, was willing to tell special counsel
    Robert Mueller that Trump did know about the meeting in advance
    and approved of it.

In May, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani
said if the president knew about the controversial June 2016
Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials at
that time it happened, it would make sense for it to have later
slipped his mind.

Telling Business Insider that
he
“would be surprised” if the president did know at the
time, Giuliani said, “Honestly, I would be surprised if he could
remember.”

“I couldn’t remember,” Giuliani added. “I would say that. I
couldn’t remember if that happened back then.”

The June 2016 meeting — attended by Donald Trump Jr., White House
senior adviser Jared Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul
Manafort — was presented as a chance for Kremlin-connected lawyer
Natalia Veselnitskaya to provide the Trump team with what she
said was damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the 2016
Democratic presidential nominee.

In his testimony to the Senate
Judiciary Committee, which was released shortly before Giuliani
spoke with Business Insider, Trump Jr. said he could not remember
whether he told his father about the meeting. He said he “didn’t
think that listening to someone with information relevant to the
fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an
issue.”

After the meeting was disclosed publicly last year, Trump Jr.
initially said its purpose was to discuss Russian adoption
policy. But the story began to shift in subsequent days, and
Trump Jr. eventually released emails between him and
Rob Goldstone
, the British music publicist who helped
coordinate the meeting with Veselnitskaya.

Veselnitskaya, according to all accounts of the meeting, did not
provide useful information about Clinton.

Giuliani said at the time that he hadn’t looked at all of the
documents and testimony. But he said he believes they are “all
very consistent with” the idea that the Trump Tower gathering
“was billed as a meeting where there might be some damaging
information about Hillary” and “there turned out not to be.”

“It turned out to be a front for trying to get into a discussion
of sanctions and it was all dismissed very quickly,” he said. “I
would think if there was any confusion about who knew what and
when, it comes down to the fact that this was in the middle of
the campaign.”


Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr.
Donald
Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Acknowledging he was heavily involved in Trump’s campaign then,
Giuliani said he “could not have remembered something like that”
meeting “because the Russian collusion thing only became a big
thing after that.”

“I mean, I don’t know how many people came up to me on the street
telling me they had damaging information about this or that,” he
continued. “And then sometimes, you give them a number to call,
and I don’t know if they followed it up or not.”

‘He’s lied all his life’

On Thursday, the meeting drew renewed attention. CNN reported that the
president’s former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who is under
criminal investigation and recently released an audio tape
he made in September 2016 in
which
he and Trump discuss buying the rights to the
story of a
 former Playboy model, is willing to
tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump approved the June
2016 meeting beforehand.

That claim would contradict past denials from Trump.

Cohen, CNN’s sources said, alleges he was present along
with others when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by
Trump Jr. and that the president signed off on the idea to meet
with them. 

Soon after, Giuliani was on CNN bashing Cohen’s credibility.

“There’s nobody that I know that knows him who hasn’t warned me
that if he’s backed up against a wall he’ll lie like crazy,
because he’s lied all his life,” Giuliani said of Cohen.

CNN’s sources said Cohen does not have hard evidence, such as
audio recordings, of what he’s alleging. Cohen last year
testified to two congressional committees on Russian election
interference and did not say that Trump had advance knowledge of
the meeting, a source told CNN.

On Friday, Trump tweeted he “did NOT know of
the meeting with my son, Don jr.”

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