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Michael Cohen: Trump knew about 2016 meeting with Russia-linked lawyer

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Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr.
U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks with his son Donald Trump Jr.
during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in
Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 11,
2017.

REUTERS/Lucas
Jackson


  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal
    attorney, accused Trump of knowing in advance that senior
    campaign officials planned to meet with a Kremlin-linked lawyer
    offering dirt on Hillary Clinton at the height of the election,
    CNN reported.
  • The report says Cohen claims he and several others were
    present when Donald Trump Jr., who attended the meeting,
    informed Trump of the Russians’ offer, and that Trump greenlit
    going ahead with the meeting.
  • Cohen reportedly does not have evidence, like tape
    recordings, proving his claims but is willing to testify about
    it to the special counsel Robert Mueller under oath.

President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen
has accused Trump of knowing in advance about a 2016 Trump Tower
meeting between members of his campaign that was held on the
premise that the lawyer would offer dirt on Hillary Clinton.


CNN
and NBC News
reported on Thursday night that Cohen has no evidence that Trump
had advance knowledge of the meeting, but is willing to testify
about it under oath to the special counsel Robert Mueller.

The meeting in question happened in June 2016, when Trump Jr.,
Paul Manafort, and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met
with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower.

The premise of the meeting was that Veselnitskaya was
representing the Russian government’s effort to help Trump in the
presidential election that year.

Cohen reportedly did not mention this new claim when he testified
to two Congressional committees in 2017, according to CNN.
Additionally, a person familiar with Cohen’s House Intelligence
Committee testimony told CNN that Cohen said nothing at the time
about whether or not Trump knew of the 2016 meeting.

Trump has previously said he did not know about the meeting in
advance. When the story first emerged last summer, Trump Jr.
sought to play down the Trump Tower gathering. He provided a
statement about the meeting to the press last summer,
which was reportedly dictated by his father
.

The July 2017 statement reads:

“It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul 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 the 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.”

On Thursday night, the president’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani,
slapped
away Cohen’s alleged claims
, calling him “an incredible liar”
who has “a tremendous motive to lie now.”

Cohen is
currently at the center of an investigation
in the Southern
District of New York. The FBI raided his home, office, and hotel
room in April, seizing a multitude of documents and recordings
pertaining to his own business dealings and his work for Trump.

Cohen has not been charged with a crime, but he is in legal
jeopardy, as evidenced by his stated willingness to
“put family and country first”
and
“tell the truth”
about Trump.

The claims about Trump’s alleged prior knowledge of the meeting
are pertinent to the broader Russia investigation in which
Mueller and his prosecutors are trying to make sense of Russia’s
interference in the 2016 election — and whether members of the
Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to help get Trump
elected.

The president continues to deny such claims.

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