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 TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe 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.Don TrumpHow Trump uses fundraising emails to remain undisputed leader of the GOP Donald Trump Jr. joins Cameo Book claims Trump family members were 'inappropriately' close with Secret Service agents MORE, Jared Kushner, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report 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 KushnerHouse panel tees up Trump executive privilege fight in Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records 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 ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 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 (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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.