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 TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally 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 John Trump'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic requests pardon from Trump: 'Be my hero please' Zaid Jilani discusses Trump's move to cancel racial sensitivity training at federal agencies Trump International Hotel in Vancouver closes permanently MORE, Jared Kushner, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortOur Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Bannon trial date set in alleged border wall scam Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention 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 KushnerAbraham Accords: New hope for peace in Middle East Tenants in Kushner building file lawsuit alleging dangerous living conditions Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing 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 ClintonJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Warning signs flash for Lindsey Graham in South Carolina 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) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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.