What Cohen revelation means for Trump

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 tell CNN. CNN's Manu Raju reports on what this means for the President.

Posted: Jul 29, 2018 11:08 AM
Updated: Jul 29, 2018 11:15 AM

CNN reported Thursday that President Donald Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen claims Trump knew in real-time about the June 2016 meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Cohen is willing to make this assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, sources told CNN.

If true, Cohen's claim would contradict repeated denials from Trump, Donald Trump Jr., both of their lawyers and other administration officials, who maintain that Trump learned about the meeting in 2017.

After Donald Trump Jr. said in a July 2017 interview that he never told his father about the meeting before it happened, Cohen tweeted that he was "so proud of (Trump Jr.) for being open, honest and transparent to the American people."

Here are 20 examples of these denials:

Denials from President Donald Trump

Reuters interview on July 12, 2017: "No. That, I didn't know. Until a couple of days ago, when I heard about this. No, I didn't know about that."

Press gaggle on July 12, 2017: "Don is -- as many of you know Don -- he's a good boy. He's a good kid. And he had a meeting, nothing happened with the meeting. It was a short meeting as he told me -- because I only heard about it two or three days ago..."

New York Times interview on July 19, 2017:

MICHAEL SCHMIDT: Did you know at the time that they had the meeting?

TRUMP: No, I didn't know anything about the meeting.

SCHMIDT: But you didn't --

TRUMP: It must have been a very important -- must have been a very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it.

MAGGIE HABERMAN: No one told you a word, nothing? I know we talked about this on the plane a little bit.

TRUMP: No, nobody told me. I didn't know noth-- It's a very unimportant -- sounded like a very unimportant meeting.

Tweet on July 27, 2018: "NO,... 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?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary's lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!"

Denials from Donald Trump Jr.

Statement on July 9, 2017: "...The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events."

Fox News interview on July 11, 2017:

SEAN HANNITY: A lot of people are going to want to know this about your father, did you tell your father anything about this?

TRUMP JR: No. It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn't have remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. It was -- it was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.

Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on September 7, 2017:

QUESTION: Did you tell your father about this email?

TRUMP JR.: I did not.

QUESTION: ...Why wouldn't you share it with your father, given your response that you loved it, especially later in the summer?

TRUMP JR.: Because I wouldn't bring him anything that's unsubstantiated, especially from a guy like Rob, before I knew what it was actually about myself.

Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on September 7, 2017:

QUESTION: Has he (your father) ever told you whether he saw this e-mail or knew about this meeting?

TRUMP JR.: Not that I recall, no.

QUESTION: And that is something you would recall?

TRUMP JR.: Certainly not at the time. So, I mean obviously he's aware of it now because he's read it, it's been in the papers, but that's the extent of my knowledge of his knowledge of it.

Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on September 7, 2017:

QUESTION: Did he ask you -- did he indicate to you that he hadn't known about the meeting before? Did he say why wasn't I told about the meeting?

TRUMP JR.: No, he didn't.

QUESTION: Did you find that odd?

TRUMP JR.: No, because he wasn't aware of it, and, frankly, by the time anyone was aware of it, which was summer of this year, as I stated earlier, I wouldn't have wanted to get him involved in it because it had nothing to do with him.

Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on September 7, 2017:

QUESTION: Did you inform your father about the meeting or the underlying offer prior to the meeting/

TRUMP JR.: No, I did not.

Denials from Trump attorney Jay Sekulow

CNN interview on July 11, 2017:

SEKULOW: Look, Donald Trump Jr. put it all out today. It's all out there.

JAKE TAPPER: After several days of different stories.

SEKULOW: But there are a couple of key points. One, this is not a situation where the President was involved (and) did not attend.

TAPPER: Didn't know about this meeting until a couple of days ago?

SEKULOW: Yes, I swear.

CNN interview on July 12, 2017: "He's not questioning the veracity of his own son's emails. Donald Trump Jr. put out the emails yesterday. He was transparent about, put them all out, all the entire chain. And so, let's focus on what the President was aware of. Nothing. He was not aware of the meeting. Did not attend the meeting. And was only informed about the emails very recently by his counsel."

NBC News interview on July 12, 2017: "I just want to be very clear on this as the President's lawyer, the President -- I said it already, but I'll say it again. -- the President was not aware and did not attend this meeting. He was only made aware of the email, and this chain of emails, which he only saw yesterday as it was released. He was made aware of it just, in the last, really, very, very recently by his lawyers. The legal team met with the President to discuss it just literally days ago."

CNN interview on July 14, 2017: "Well, you started with the right supposition, and that is -- I'm -- I represent the President. I'm one of the lawyers representing the President. So, I don't represent the Trump Organization. I don't represent the others. But let me just say a couple of things on that. The President has stated very clearly that he was not aware of the meeting and did not attend the meeting. And that has been undisputed. No one disputed that. So, he was not aware of it, did not attend it."

ABC News interview on July 16, 2017: "Well, let me say this, you know, I don't represent Donald Trump, Jr. I represent the President. And what I can tell you is the President was not aware of that meeting, did not attend that meeting, and Don Trump, Jr., was explicitly clear on this interview on the Sean Hannity broadcast that that was it on the meeting."

CBS News interview on July 16, 2017: "(O)bviously the President has been very clear on that. He said he has -- had no meetings, was aware of no meetings with Russians, was not aware of this one until really right before it all broke. And that's what the President said. And in fact, there's been no information to the contrary. So, he's been very clear on that."

Denials from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani

CNN interview on July 26, 2018: "The question isn't what happened in the room. The question is what did the President know, as you said, and (Carl) Bernstein said, what did he know, and when did he know it? So, it would have to be people in the room with the President -- that can corroborate (Michael) Cohen, which there won't be, because it didn't happen. And then it becomes a credibility contest between two or three witnesses who say one thing and Cohen who says another."

CNN interview on July 26, 2018: "I honestly don't think it's significant. But in any event, that doesn't matter. It didn't happen. That's our position."

Denial from Trump Jr. attorney Alan Futerfas

Statement on July 10, 2017: "The meeting lasted about 20-30 minutes, and nothing came of it. His father knew nothing about it. The bottom line is that Don, Jr. did nothing wrong. I have been representing people in investigatory matters for almost 30 years, and I see nothing here."

Denial from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders

Press briefing on July 10, 2017:

REPORTER: ... reports on this meeting that took place at Trump Tower last June with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner. When did the President learn that that meeting had taken place?

MS. SANDERS: I believe in the last couple of days, is my understanding.

This has been updated with an additional example of a denial from Donald Trump, Jr.

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