As Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, reportedly indicates he’s willing to testify that Trump knew in advance about a June 9, 2016 meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Kremlin-connected Russians who promised political dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump publicly denied having such knowledge.
But a speech he gave on June 7, 2016 suggests the president might not be telling the truth.
Two days before the Trump Tower meeting, then-candidate Donald Trump teased a major speech in which he’d detail dirt about the Clintons.
“I am going to give a major speech on — probably Monday of next week — and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” Trump said. “I think you’re going to find it very informative, and very, very interesting.”
When Trump made those comments, his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had already exchanged emails with Rob Goldstone, a publicist who coordinated the Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a “Russian government attorney” who promised to provide him and other top Trump campaign officials with political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Russian officials “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. on June 3, according to emails publicly released by Trump Jr.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Goldstone added, to which Trump Jr. replied, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The meeting Goldstone offered to arrange ultimately took place in Trump Tower on June 9. Though Trump Jr.’s emails prove that he took the meeting in hopes of obtaining useful dirt of Hillary, he later claimed the Russian attorney didn’t have the goods.
The major Clinton speech Trump promised to deliver days after the meeting never happened. When the New York Times broke news about the Trump Tower meeting in July 2017, Trump dictated a misleading statement for his son obfuscating about the real purpose of the meeting. That statement has since become a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice.
White House officials, attorneys working for Trump, and Trump Jr. have all repeatedly denied that Trump knew about the meeting in advance. CNN put together this compilation of their denials:
Trump Jr. also testified to Congress that he didn’t inform his father about the meeting before it happened.
But on Thursday night, CNN and other outlets broke news that Cohen is willing to testify that Trump Jr. and his father haven’t been telling the truth.
“Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr,” CNN reports. “By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources.”
If Cohen’s account is truthful, it would be the strongest indication yet that not only was Trump aware of his campaign’s efforts to collude with Russia, but he approved of them. Trump, however, tweeted on Friday that he “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?).”
…..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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2018
But if Trump Jr. really didn’t loop in his dad about his efforts to obtain dirt on Clinton, why was Trump teasing a major speech about “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons” at the same time the Trump Tower meeting was being planned?
Trump Jr. placed three calls to blocked numbers before and after the June 9 meeting. During his testimony to Congress, he said he wasn’t sure whether or not any of those calls was to his father.