In a day of confusing statements, President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani first startled observers with a public claim of a previously unknown meeting involving top Trump associates and Kremlin-linked Russians — then recanted the claim and said the meeting “never happened.”
During a nearly 45-minute interview on CNN at 8 a.m., Giuliani said Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who appears to have turned on his former boss, claims that top Trump officials met at Trump Tower to plan for a scheduled June 9, 2016 meeting days later with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer promising dirt on Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.
In a subsequent interview four hours later — and after some Democrats said the earlier meeting amounted to new evidence of calculated collusion with Russia — Giuliani denied it ever took place, saying he was merely repeating a claim that multiple reporters had been asking him about.
It was the latest of several instances in which Giuliani — a former New York City mayor, federal prosecutor and presidential candidate — seemed to confuse or distort key facts about the Russia investigation and related legal headaches for his presidential client.
Giuliani told CNN the earlier meeting happened two days before the well-publicized June 9 Trump Tower meeting, and allegedly involved Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and another individual Giuliani could not remember. Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort all attended the undisputed June 9 meeting, which — after shifting accounts from the White House about its purpose — they have said came to nothing.
Giuliani mentioned the meeting twice during his CNN interview, first saying that Cohen leaked that this meeting took place. He then mentioned that it was Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, who had revealed the gathering had occurred.
Around noon, Giuliani called into Fox News’ “Outnumbered” to clarify his statement, saying only that reporters had asked him about the separate meeting.
“All I have are two reporters telling me Cohen told him there was a meeting three days before with a group of people that I said, and that they discussed the meeting and that the president was not there,” Giuliani said.
He added that Cohen didn’t say whether the president knew about it.
“I am telling you the meeting didn’t take place, never happened,” Giuliani said.
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