In what could be the clearest evidence yet of collusion between Donald Trump and agents of the Russian government in the 2016 presidential election, Trump's former lawyer is prepared to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew about a June 9, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower between a group of Russians including, as Inquisitr has reported, a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump's own son Donald Trump, Jr.
In fact, Trump not only knew about the meeting — which was set up because Trump, Jr. was told by a Russia-linked acquaintance that the Russians possessed damaging information on Democrat Hillary Clinton — he personally approved it, according to a report by CNN late on Thursday. The report is based on what CNN called "sources with knowledge."
Cohen's attorney, while declining to deny the report, did deny that anyone on Cohen's legal team leaked the details of what Cohen plans to say about the Trump Tower meeting, according to NBC News correspondent Geoff Bennett, writing on Twitter.
"I cannot comment," Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis said. "And I have to wonder why the Trump people would put that out. It was not from us."
Trump lawyer and former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a "pathological liar," as The Hill reported, adding that Trump "didn't know about it," referring to the meeting.
NBC News quickly confirmed the information that Cohen plans to tell Mueller that Trump knew of the Trump Tower meeting, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, on her Twitter feed.
According to the CNN report, Cohen will say that he attended a meeting at which Trump, Jr. told the elder Trump about the then-upcoming meeting. But Giuliani claimed in a CNN interview that he had spoken to "corroborating witnesses" who denied that Trump was told about the meeting in advance.
Mother Jones magazine Washington Bureau Chief David Corn, co-author of the book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, said on his Twitter account that a source had also told him that the CNN report was accurate.
In March, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg claimed that Trump knew in advance of the meeting, telling CNN's Jake Tapper, "You know he knew about it. He was talking about it a week before...I don't know why he went around trying to hide it," as Atlantic Monthly reporter Natasha Bertrand reported on her Twitter feed.
In addition to Trump, Jr., the meeting was attended by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as by his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is facing a trial on July 31, on charges stemming from Mueller's investigation, The Hill reported.
Democratic congressional representative Adam Schiff, vice-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said that if the CNN report proves accurate, "the conspiracy case may have just gotten stronger."Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort met with a group of high-level Russians, led by attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who later admitted to serving as an "informant" for the Russian government, as the Inquisitr has reported.
The then-candidate Trump was present in Trump Tower, in his office just one floor above where the meeting was taking place on June 9, 2016. When the meeting was over, Trump, Jr. made three phone calls, as Inquisitr earlier reported. The first and third were to Emin Agalraov, a Russian pop singer and son of Kremlin-linked real estate developer Aras Agalarov, who had paid $20 million to Trump for Trump to bring the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. It was Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov's publicist, who pitched the meeting to Trump, Jr. as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
The second phone call registered on Trump, Jr.'s phone was a blocked number. The elder Trump had a blocked number at the time, though the identity of that second caller has not been revealed.