On July 26, CNN reported that former Trump attorney and personal “fixer” Michael Cohen is now prepared to tell Robert Mueller that the President knew ahead of time about the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, attended by Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who were promised dirt on Hillary Clinton by a publicist who arranged the pow wow with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
If true, Cohen’s account contradicts more than a dozen explicit denials of prior knowledge by Trump, his lawyers and surrogates. Perhaps just as notable, it would also mean that Don Jr. lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year when he said the following about his father’s knowledge (or lack thereof) of the meeting (from the official transcript):
That’s trouble and according to sources, Trump knows it.
“President Donald Trump is concerned about whether his son Donald Trump Jr. might have exposure in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, leading to his increasingly frenzied public agitation over Robert Mueller,” CNN reported on Saturday evening, citing sources close to the White House. Here’s a bit more:
Trump has been concerned for months now that the Mueller probe could reach his family, and potentially his son-in-law Jared Kushner, but his focus has turned to his namesake in recent weeks, one person who speaks with Trump frequently tells CNN. This is one of several reasons Trump has upped his public attacks on Mueller, because he doesn’t want him touching his family, the person adds.
News that Cohen is prepared to tell the special counsel that Trump, his family and his lawyers allegedly lied about the meeting capped off a truly terrible week on the legal front for the President. Three days prior, CNN leaked a secret recording of Michael Cohen and then-candidate Trump discussing the details of a planned payoff to Playmate Karen McDougal. That audio featured the following allusions to Allen Weisselberg, longtime Trump money man and CFO of the Trump Organization:
I’ve spoken to Allen about how to set the whole thing up. I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing.
Since then, Trump and Rudy Giuliani have gone on the attack, with the President ratcheting up his criticism of the Mueller probe and Giuliani insisting that “collusion with Russians isn’t a crime.” Giuliani also made a series of bizarre statements to CNN and Fox News this week that seemed to suggest there was at least one other meeting about Russians at Trump Tower, something the public was previously unaware of. Rudy was embarrassed by Fox’s Melissa Francis in a hilarious exchange that found him stammering under pressure and certainly seemed to suggest that when it comes to competent legal counsel, Rudy ain’t it.
For his part, Trump continues to pressure the Department of Justice to shut down the Mueller probe, going so far as to implore Jeff Sessions to step in, despite reports that the special counsel is quite literally using Trump’s tweets about Sessions to build an obstruction case. The President also lambasted Mueller last Sunday in a series of tweets about everything from an interview the special counsel had with the President for the FBI director position to green fees at a golf course.
Fast forward a week and Trump lashed out at Mueller again on Twitter. “Why aren’t Mueller and the 17 Angry Democrats looking at the meetings concerning the Fake Dossier and all of the lying that went on in the FBI and DOJ?”, the President asked on Sunday morning, before decrying the investigation as “the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country.”
“Fortunately, the facts are all coming out, and fast!”, Trump continued.
Yes, “the facts” are “all coming out, and fast”, but there is nothing “fortunate” about that for the President, because as it turns out, the facts continue to implicate him. Just ask his lawyer Jay Sekulow, who on Sunday morning showed up on ABC to try and explain (again) why he lied about the President’s involvement in drafting a statement about the meeting.
Got that? “In a situation like this, you have, over time, facts develop.”
Sekulow’s comments come amid fresh tweets from Trump, who on Sunday did the worst thing possible when it comes to playing down rumors that he’s worried about Don Jr.’s legal exposure: he acknowledged those rumors and called them “fake news.”
“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower”, the President tweeted, before saying this:
This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!
Again, any reasonable person would have just let CNN’s Saturday evening article go. For one thing, there is nothing at all wrong with a father being worried about his son. Really, the only way CNN’s story is even notable is if Trump’s concern for Don Jr. stems primarily from the President believing that his namesake’s testimony on Capitol Hill will be proven false. Otherwise, this is just an annoyance.
Think about this for a second. If Trump “did not know about it!” (as he tweeted on Sunday morning), well then there won’t be any hard evidence to prove that he did, which means Don Jr. has nothing to worry about in the context of his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee (excerpted above). Additionally, if the meeting was “totally legal”, well then there won’t be any evidence to prove that it wasn’t (legal, that is), so again, Don Jr. has nothing to worry about.
This is yet another example of “the President doth protest too much, methinks” and if I were his attorney, I would strongly suggest he stop protesting on Twitter because he is implicating himself every, single time he tweets and now he’s accidentally implicating his son.