Finally, an allegation that Trump was aware of the meeting might strengthen the allegations of obstruction of justice against the president. A particular focus will be Trump Jr.’s initial statement about the meeting, which turned out to be false, and which the president dictated from Air Force One while returning from Europe. Mueller has long been said to be interested in the circumstances of that statement, which denied that the meeting had dealt with campaign issues at all.
Speaking Thursday night, Giuliani blasted the Cohen story.
“He’s been lying all week, he’s been lying for years,” Giuliani said on CNN. “I don’t see how he’s got any credibility.”
It is true that Cohen has been less than honest in the past. But if repeated lies are the standard by which the public should decide who to believe, the president is in trouble. On the Trump Tower meeting and on issues involving Cohen, it has been the Trump side that has been repeatedly caught misleading.
In the first days of the story, Trump Jr. offered a dizzying series of reversals about what happened. When the Trump Tower was first publicly revealed by The New York Times in 2017, Trump Jr. issued the statement that his father helped dictate. “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up,” the statement said. He also said he was unaware of the name of the person with whom he was meeting.
This was quickly proven to be false, as three advisers told the Times that Trump Jr. knew that his contact was supposed to have damaging information. So Trump Jr. offered a new account, saying he had hoped to receive damaging information, but that Veselnitskaya had been unable to deliver. Finally, again prompted by Times reporting, Trump Jr. acknowledged that he had been told the meeting was part of an effort by the Kremlin to assist his father’s campaign. Trump Jr. also released his emails about the meeting.
The story of Trump’s alleged affair with McDougal, a former Playboy model, has unfolded at slower speed, but with the same basic pattern: Denials by the president and his aides have repeatedly been debunked. The story of the affair first broke in the closing days of the presidential campaign, and in indirect fashion: The Wall Street Journal reported that the National Enquirer had purchased the rights to the story from McDougal for $150,000, then sat on it, in a tabloid maneuver called “catch-and-kill,” designed to stifle a story.
“We have no knowledge of any of this,” then-campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said at the time, adding that the story was “totally untrue.” More recently, after the existence of a tape made by Cohen was revealed, Giuliani insisted that it would be “exculpatory” for his client.