July 30, 2018
The knives are out. The confrontation between President Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen has escalated, with Cohen claiming to CNN on July 26 that he was with his then-boss and several other Trump Organization executives in 2016 when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father he could “get dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from the Russians.
On Twitter early on July 27, President Trump strongly denied the story, writing: “… I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?)”
Sources told CNN that not only does Cohen claim that President Trump had advance knowledge of the meeting in Trump Tower involving Donald Trump Jr., as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, but he is willing to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller all about it in support of collusion claims for the Russia investigation. The sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.
It already has been established—in an admission by Trump Jr.—that Trump’s campaign staff expected to receive dirt, which they labeled as “opposition research,” on Clinton at the June 2016 meeting. However, unlike the Trumps, US intelligence agencies say Russia interfered to support Trump’s candidacy.
Cohen is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York because of his business dealings and efforts during the 2016 campaign to suppress negative stories about Trump. An FBI raid on Cohen’s office in April sought information about taxi owners who had financial dealings with Cohen, CNN has reported.
Cohen has hired Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, to represent him.
“(Cohen) even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s (Clinton) lawyer,” Trump also wrote, referring to Davis. “Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!”
Trump did not respond to shouted questions about Cohen from reporters after speaking about the economy at the White House Friday morning.
In an interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” Thursday night, Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a “pathological liar.”
“I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” the former New York City mayor said.
In a poll released last week by The Hill, Americans said that they believe that Russia continues to want to interfere in U.S. elections and will do so in the lead-up to the midterms. Jointly conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist, the poll found that 57% of Americans said they believe Russia is likely to attempt to interfere in November; versus 38%, who said the Kremlin is not likely to do so.
Research contact: @maristpoll