Cohen Reportedly Claims Trump Approved 2016 Trump Tower Meeting, Ready To Tell Mueller
If true, this would be the most significant development in Mueller’s collusion probe thus far.
After repeated denials from Donald Trump Sr. and Jr., CNN reported a bombshell that completely undermines the Trump administration’s narrative about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.
Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.
Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources.
To be clear, these sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.
The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was held between Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, then-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives. Donald Trump Jr.’s own emails and congressional testimony revealed that he was very eager about the prospect of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The Trump administration’s initial response to this, which was crafted on Air Force One by Trump himself with the help of former Communications Director Hope Hicks, was false. Trump Jr.’s first statement after the initial report asserted the meeting was only about adoption. As we now know, Trump Jr. later acknowledged that it clearly wasn’t just about adoption. He clearly states that he anticipated he was going to receive damaging information on his father’s political opponent Hillary Clinton. Even if it was strictly about “adoption” it would’ve been problematic, given the fact Magnitsky Act was expanded in 2016 and now sanctions 44 people worldwide. If this story wasn’t about Jr. seeking dirt, it would’ve been about Trump campaign officials meeting with a Russian lawyer who is lobbying against US-imposed sanctions on Russia.
This would be a significant development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. If true, it would also mean that Donald Trump Jr. lied about his father’s knowledge of this to congressional investigators.
The Full Meeting Breakdown
- In attendance: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian interpreter and a representative for Aras Agalarov, Ike Kaveladze were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower
- Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
- Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
- Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions, and has testified that during the meeting Trump Jr. asked for damning information Hillary Clinton
- Trump Jr. was told it was part of Russia’s effort to support his father’s candidacy (with email confirmation via Trump Jr. himself)
- Goldstone was told to set up the meeting by the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov
- Trump Jr. didn’t appear surprised by Goldstone’s declaration that the Russian government supports his father
- There seemed to have been a phone call between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr. on June 6th
- Trump Sr. was one floor above the meeting at Trump Tower while the meeting took place
Federal law, Section 30121 of Title 52, states that it is a crime for a foreign national to contribute money or other items of value to an American election, as well as making it illegal for an American to solicit such a contribution.