Giuliani rejects purported Cohen claim of second Trump Tower meeting

Giuliani rejects purported Cohen claim of second Trump Tower meeting
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Rudy Giuliani on Monday rejected purported claims by President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that at least five Trump aides participated in a planning session days before a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian attorney in June 2016.

Giuliani, who represents Trump in the Russia investigation, claimed in an interview early Monday that Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, had said that a group of Trump aides — Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpHouse chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments Sarah Sanders says she was interviewed by Mueller's office Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' MORE, Jared Kushner, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Mueller probe figures use fame to pay bills Mueller subpoenas former Cambridge Analytica employee MORE, Richard Gates and at least one other unidentified person — had met to strategize for a planned meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya days later. Davis is a columnist for The Hill.

In that interview on CNN, Giuliani made clear that President Trump was not at the planning meeting. 

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But in a later Fox News interview, Giuliani claimed that the planning meeting never actually happened, and suggested that Cohen had fabricated the story.

"He says there was a meeting with Donald Jr., with Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE, with Paul Manafort, with Gates and possibly two others in which they, out of the presence of the president, discuss the meeting with the Russians," Giuliani said.

"We checked with their lawyers — the ones we could check with — for four of the six," he continued. "That meeting never, ever happened. It didn’t happen. It’s a figment of his imagination or is lying."

Giuliani said that although he had been approached by two reporters about the alleged planning meeting, he thought they had stopped pursuing the claim.

"All I have are two reporters telling me Cohen told them there was a meeting three days before with the group of people that I said and that they discussed the Russia meeting and that the president was not there," Giuliani said.

"I am telling him that meeting didn’t take place; never happened. He had to have it with himself."

While the meeting with Veselnitskaya was first reported last year by The New York Times, the idea of an alleged planning meeting days earlier had not been broached publicly until Giuliani's comments on Monday.

The Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya was set up after the Russian lawyer had offered dirt to the Trump campaign on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Why the national emergency? A second term may be Trump’s only shield from an indictment MORE. But the meeting participants, including Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort, have said that nothing came out of the discussion. 

Trump and his aides have repeatedly denied that he was aware of the meeting with Veselnitskaya, and Trump Jr. has said he did not tell his father about it, because it was not important. 

CNN reported last week, however, that Cohen, who is under investigation for his business dealings, was prepared to tell special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE that Trump did, in fact, know about the meeting with Veselnitskaya before it happened. The network's sources said, however, that Cohen does not have any evidence to support that claim, and Trump and his attorneys have denied it.

Mueller is investigating Russia's election meddling and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.