Trump knew of Russian lawyer meeting, claims Cohen

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Washington, July 27 (IANS) US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has said that his client knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting between his aides and a Russian delegation that offered to help his campaign.

Cohen said on Thursday that he was present when Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, informed his father of the Russians’ offer, CNN reported on Friday.

Trump’s confidante who is now turning into a dangerous adversary said he was willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller investigating the alleged Russian election meddling.

Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who had 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.

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The meeting at Trump Tower in New York City involved Trump’s son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and influential Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, CNN reported citing sources.

The meeting was set up after a Russian intermediary contacted Trump Jr with a promise to provide material that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton — the Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

According to reports, Cohen did not have any audio recordings to support his account but was willing to assert it as part of the ongoing investigations.

In response to the allegation, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told NBC that Cohen “was not credible”.

“It’s not true,” he said. “Why would you expect it would be true from someone like Cohen? A lawyer who would tape their own client is a lawyer without any character.”

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His comments referred to reports that Cohen secretly recorded the President discussing payments to a former Playboy model.

The tapes were reportedly discovered during an FBI raid on Cohen’s property earlier this year in New York.

Trump insists he has done nothing wrong and says such a recording would be “totally unheard of and perhaps illegal”.

–IANS

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