WASHINGTON-President Trump on Friday said he had no prior knowledge of a June 2016 meeting his eldest son had with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, disputing an account that his former lawyer Michael Cohen is planning to tell the special counsel.
"He can not be believed", Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, said on Thursday, referring to Cohen. "If they rely on him ... it would destroy whatever case they have".
This would be a significant development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
According to people who have discussed the matter with Cohen, he has expressed hope that this claim about the Trump Tower meeting will help him reach out to Mueller and possibly lessen his legal troubles.
Trump Jr. later said that the meeting was a waste of time and that he received no information from the Russians.
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr., told Reuters, "Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and congressional investigations".
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Cohen is under federal investigation for bank fraud as well as possible campaign finance violations, and FBI agents are scrutinizing whether he had inflated the value of his taxi medallion business to seek additional financing.
"I don't see how he has any credibility", Giuliani said.
A person familiar with the investigation confirmed the CNN report to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
"I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr". One week later, Trump repeated that he "didn't know anything about the meeting" because "nobody told me" about it.
But perhaps the highest-stakes denial was given by Trump Jr.in his testimony previous year to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The network host stated the meeting "falls a long way from any hint of collusion between Trump and the Kremlin".
The Trump Tower meeting was arranged by a music promoter, Rob Goldstone, who reached out to Trump Jr saying he had "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russian Federation and would be very useful to your father". As we now know, Trump Jr. later acknowledged that it clearly wasn't just about adoption.
Later Friday the USA leader was to gather his National Security Council for a meeting on election security, as United States intelligence chiefs warn Russian Federation will seek to meddle again in the November midterm polls.