Back in July, Kemberlee blogged about CNN’s “explosive” report that, according to “sources,” President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen claimed the then-presidential candidate knew about the June 2016 meetings at Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr., and Russians.

Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis appeared on CNN on Wednesday night and directly refuted the story.

The July Report

From CNN’s July report:

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 with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.

Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.

Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources.

To be clear, these sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.

Kemberlee also noted this portion in the report that contradicted the other sources:

Cohen privately testified last year to two Congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. A source familiar with Cohen’s House testimony said he did not testify that Trump had advance knowledge. Cohen’s claims weren’t mentioned in separate reports issued by Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

Wednesday Night on CNN

Before his interview with Anderson Cooper, Davis went on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, who asked the lawyer about evidence that Trump knew in advance of the meeting between Trump, Jr., and the Russians.

A few hours later, Davis contradicts himself on Anderson Cooper’s show.

Cooper: You were just on with Wolf Blitzer and you said that Michael Cohen was present in a meeting with then-candidate Trump and his son Don, Jr., about the Trump Tower meeting. This is obviously incredibly important issue. You’ve also said that Michael Cohen testified truthfully to the Senate Intelligence Committee and according to the chair and vice chair of the committee, he told them that he had no knowledge of the meeting until he saw it in the press. How can both of those of things be true? Either he knew about the meeting or he didn’t know about the meeting.

Davis: Well, I think, um, the reporting of this story got mixed up in the course of a criminal investigation. We were not the source of the story. And the question of a criminal investigation, the advice we were given, those of us dealing with the media is that we could not do anything other than stay silent.

Cooper: So can you say now whether in fact Michael Cohen has information that President Trump was aware either before the Trump Tower meeting that Don Jr. was part of with Russian attorney claiming to be a part of the Kremlin with dirt on Hillary Clinton, either that Michael Cohen has information that the president knew about it in advance or knew about it immediately after?

Davis: Senator Burr and Senator Warner read the answer to the question about his testimony which is that he said he was not aware ahead of time and did not hear anything to the contrary and that was the testimony before the Senate as well as the House intelligence committees and he said that the testimony was accurate.

Cooper: So Michael Cohen does not have information that President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians beforehand or even after?

Davis: No he does not.

So which is it, Davis?

The incident came up because only two days ago, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and top Democrat Mark Warner released a statement that the committee “re-engaged” Cohen for its investigation:

In their statement, Burr and Warner said Cohen told them he was not aware of any meeting prior to the press reports, and that once the new reports came out about Cohen saying Trump knew of the meeting before it happened, the committee asked Cohen’s legal team whether Cohen stood by his testimony before the committee.

They say his team responded that Cohen did stand by his previous testimony that he did not know of the meeting in advance. The two senators did not say what if anything Cohen said about Trump having advance knowledge of the meeting.


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