President Trump's former longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that then-candidate Donald Trump knew in advance about a June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya - a Fusion GPS associate who is not a fan of Trump Sr.
Several other individuals were at the meeting, while Cohen has claimed for the first time that he was there too according to a late Thursday report by CNN.
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. -CNN
Trump's prior knowledge of the meeting would contradict his own denial, that of his son Trump Jr., and several administration officials who have previously said that the President was unaware of the meeting. Keeping all that in mind, Cohen does not have evidence to support this claim according to CNN - but that he's willing to attest to his account in a bid to "possibly lessen his legal troubles."
According to people who have discussed the matter with Cohen, he has expressed hope that this claim about the Trump Tower meeting will help him reach out to Mueller and possibly lessen his legal troubles. He's under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan after Mueller referred Cohen's case to them. -CNN
President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said of Cohen: "He's certainly a source that is not credible."
On July 12 of last year, Trump said of the Tower meeting he "only heard about it two or three days ago," while one week later repeating that he "didn't know anything about the meeting" because "nobody told me" about it.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. said during Congressional Testimony last September: "He wasn't aware of it," adding "And, frankly, by the time anyone was aware of it, which was summer of this year, as I stated earlier, I wouldn't have wanted to get him involved in it because it had nothing to do with him."
Alan Fuertes, an attorney for Trump Jr. said: "Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and Congressional investigations ... We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump, Jr., and on his behalf."
So it comes down to Cohen's word vs. everyone else's - unless some of the "several others" he claims were present when Trump approved the meeting - which was arranged by UK publicist and Fusion GPS associate Rob Goldstone.
Goldstone said during Congressional testimony reviewed by Breitbart that he believes the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower was a "bait and switch" by a Russian lobbyist who promised "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, and admitted that he used hyperbolic language on purpose to ensure that the meeting would take place.
“I, therefore, used the strongest hyperbolic language in order to secure this request from Donald Trump Jr. based on the bare facts I was given,” said Goldstone, a UK publicist and music manager.
“It was an example of, I was given very limited information, and my job was to get a meeting, and so I used my professional use of words to emphasize what my client had only given bare-bones information about, in order to get the attention of Mr. Trump Jr.” -Rob Goldstone
Goldstone then said "it appeared to me to have been a bait and switch of somebody who appeared to be lobbying for what I now understood to be the Magnitsky act," - which sanctions Russian officials thought to be involved in the death of a Russian tax accountant.
The Russian lawyer in the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Trump-hating attorney and Fusion GPS associate who represented Russian businessman and Fusion client Denis Katsyv, said that the son of a Russian oligarch, Emin Agalarov, told her to set up the Tower meeting through his representative, Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze. Kaveladze attended the meeting.
Of note, Agalarov organized the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow when it was partially owned by Donald Trump, and while both Agalarov and Katsyv opposed the Magnitsky act, Veselnitskaya worked only for Katsyv.
Veselnitskaya said Agalarov told her to get in touch with Kaveladze about the meeting because he had connections with the Trump team.
Veselnitskaya said she made a point of asking Goldstone -- who she mistakenly thought was a lawyer -- whether it was OK to include Akhmetshin, given that he was a registered lobbyist. Goldstone told her it was fine, she said. -NBC News
On June 3, 2016, Goldstone sent an email to Trump Jr. on behalf of Emin Agalarov to set up the meeting. Goldstone was described last July as "associated with Fusion GPS" by Mark Corallo - spokesman for Trump's outside legal counsel, according to the Washington Post.
“Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the president and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier" -Mark Corallo
From Goldstone's June 3rd email to Trump Jr. - six days before the Trump Tower meeting:
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting 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.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.
Trump Jr. replied to Goldstone that “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Breitbart News previously reported that Russian-born Washington lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who attended the meeting with Veselnitskaya, evidenced a larger relationship with Fusion GPS and the controversial firm’s co-founder Glenn Simpson, according to Akhmetshin’s testimony before the same committee. -Breitbart
Fusion's fingerprints are all over this...
Hours before - and after, Veselnitskaya attended the Trump Tower meeting to lobby Trump Jr. about the Magnitsky act, she met with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
And while most people know that Fusion GPS was paid by the Clinton campaign to produce the infamous "Steele Dossier" - assembled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, Fusion was also working for Katsyv, while Veselnitskaya represented him. - who was given special permission by the Obama DOJ to enter the U.S. and represent him.
In late November of 2017, The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross reported that heavily redacted Fusion GPS bank records showed the Clinton Campaign's law firm, Perkins Coie, paid Fusion a total of $1,024,408 in 2016 for opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump - including the infamous "Steele dossier."
Ross also reported that law firm Baker Hostelter paid Fusion $523,651 between March and October 2016 on behalf of a company owned by Katsyv to research Bill Browder, a London banker who helped push through the Magnitsky Act.
Bear in mind, Veselnitskaya is not a fan of Donald Trump:
Natalia Veselnitskaya is extremely anti-Putin and anti-Trump. Anyone who spends 5 seconds looking at her FB would see that pic.twitter.com/LqDW2eJ62z— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 12, 2017
So while some believe that the Trump Tower meeting was a setup from the start, the question at hand is whether Trump knew about it in advance - which in the grand scheme of things might be a tad less interesting than the origins of the meeting itself.