Trump hits back at Cohen and ‘fake news’ over Tower meeting allegations

Trump hits back at Cohen and ‘fake news’ over Tower meeting allegations
The US president has lashed out at his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, after the latter claimed that Donald Trump knew in advance about a meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in 2016.

“NO,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “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!”

In an article late Thursday, CNN quoted its usual anonymous “sources with knowledge” as stating that Cohen now claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about a meeting in Trump Tower, New York, between his son, Donald Jr, and “Russians,” who were reportedly expected to offer Trump dirt on Hillary Clinton.

According to the sources, Trump was informed of the meeting, and gave it the go-ahead. Cohen has no hard evidence, the sources say, but is willing to testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump has repeatedly denied knowledge of the meeting, and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told CNN on Thursday that Cohen is “a pathological liar.”

The 20-minute Trump Tower meeting has been at the center of the probe into alleged ‘Russian collusion.’ However, its participants described it as a “waste of time” that ended up having nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. Instead, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya discussed US sanctions placed on Russia under the Magnitsky Act, which affected her clients.

The meeting had been arranged by publicist Ron Goldstone on behalf of Russian musical artist Emin Algarov. In transcripts, Trump Jr. said that he had initially been skeptical about Goldstone’s claims that his clients had information on Hillary Clinton, but decided to attend to “hear them out.”

Veselnitskaya told RT that her role in the meeting was "manipulatedby the media and twisted into something sinister. 

"I don’t know what exactly Mr. Mueller is going to investigate regarding my meeting with his president’s son, I can only say what I know – that my meeting was determined by my duties as a lawyer,” she said. “I was defending a Russian citizen in the United States of America. If it turns out that defending a Russian citizen in the US is a crime – in that case, there IS a subject for Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

The “unrelated jam” mentioned by Trump in his tweet refers to the fact that one of Cohen’s business partners, ‘Taxi King’ Evgeny Freidman, pleaded guilty earlier this summer to tax evasion. Freidman reportedly managed a large chunk of Cohen’s taxi license holdings, once a lucrative business in New York.

“Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer” refers to Cohen’s hiring of Lanny Davis, a veteran lawyer who helped Bill Clinton survive a series of scandals in the 1990s, and is reportedly close to Hillary Clinton.

In a series of related tweets, the president took aim at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing ‘Russiagate’ investigation, after it emerged on Thursday that Mueller would begin combing through Trump’s history of over 38 thousand tweets, looking for evidence that Trump’s public outbursts obstructed the investigation.

“Robert Mueller and his gang of 13 Angry Democrats obviously cannot find Collusion, the only Collusion with Russia was with the Democrats, so now they are looking at my Tweets (along with 53 million other people) - the rigged Witch Hunt continues!" he tweeted.

The Mueller investigation has thus far failed to find any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and has only served indictments for unrelated offences. As the investigation drags on over a year, its focus has shifted from looking for collusion, to looking for evidence that the Trump campaign obstructed justice.

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