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Ex-lawyer claims Trump knew of 2016 meeting with Russians: media

By AFP 27 July 2018
Caption
Attorney Michael Cohen, US President Donald J. Trump's long-time personal attorney. arrives at federal court in New York City, New York, USA, 16 April 2018. Cohen's hotel room, apartment and office were raided by federal authorities reportedly as part of an investigation into possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY

Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney has claimed the US president knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting in which Russians were expected to share dirt on then-election rival Hillary Clinton, US media reported Wednesday.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, son Donald Jr., and top campaign official Paul Manafort met at New York’s Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was offering information from the Russian government.

Trump, his son, his lawyers and other administration officials have repeatedly said he did not know about the meeting until news of it broke in July 2017.

But according to CNN and NBC, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen claims he was present when Donald Jr. told his father about the Russians’ offer to meet, and Trump approved it.

However, sources told CNN that Cohen lacks evidence such as an audio recording to corroborate his account.

CNN and NBC reported — citing anonymous sources — that Cohen is willing to assert his claim to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Mueller has already indicted 31 people — including 12 Russian intelligence agents — for hacking computer networks of the Democratic Party. DM

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