CNN is reporting that Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was told by Paul Manafort’s lawyers that one of the lies Paul Manfort told to the Mueller investigation, which caused Manafort’s plea deal to be rescinded, was that Donald Trump had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Russians, who were pitching dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort:
According to Giuliani, investigators told Manafort they don’t believe that the President did not know about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting that Manafort attended with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and a Russian attorney who had promised dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Giuliani, who received this information from Manafort’s attorneys, accused Mueller’s team of crossing the line by trying to force Manafort to say Trump knew about the meeting.
This is news is significant, but not surprising. It is significant because, if Donald Trump knew about the meeting in question, then Donald Trump was personally involved in an attempt by the Trump campaign to collude with the Russian government during the 2016 Presidential Election. The meeting was about the Russians providing dirt on Hillary Clinton, and was about the Russians requesting to have sanctions eased.
Also significant is both the fact that Paul Manafort appears to have lied about Trump’s knowledge of the meeting, and the fact that Robert Mueller knows he was lying. This suggests a couple of things. First, that Paul Manafort lied about it, and that Paul Manafort’s lawyers are in regular contact with Trump’s lawyers, means that there is a good chance that when Donald Trump submitted his written answers to questions posed by the Mueller investigation, it is highly likely that Donald Trump also lied about it. Secondly, there was another person who we already know said that Donald Trump did not know about that meeting, and that was Donald Trump Jr., who told Congress he never discussed the meeting with his father, which means there is a good chance that Donald Trump Jr. lied to Congress, which is a crime that can be prosecuted by the Mueller investigation. Lastly, the fact that Manafort is being accused of lying about it by the Mueller investigation team means that the investigators quite likely have proof it is a lie, and not just any proof, solid proof.
The news is not particularly surprising, though, to anyone who has been paying attention. Donald Trump Jr. called a blocked number before and after the meeting with the Russians at Trump Tower. Donald Trump has a blocked number. The Mueller investigation would be able to subpoena phone records to find out which number was called. Odds are pretty good that number was Donald Trump’s.
Donald Trump Jr. made several mysterious phone calls to blocked numbers before and after the Trump Tower meeting with Russians promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
The phone calls were revealed in a report released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday (PDF)—part of a whirlwind day of revelations about the investigations into Trumpland. We learned, among other things, that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign was deeper than previously known, and that there are millions of dollars more in suspicious financial dealings by Trump fixer Michael Cohen.
But the newly revealed actions of Trump Jr. may prove the most significant discovery, even if at the moment those actions raise more questions than answers. On the day he arranged the meeting the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, Trump Jr. placed two calls to blocked numbers. After the meeting ended without the promised dirt, Trump Jr. placed another call to a blocked number.
When asked if his father used a blocked number on any phone, Trump Jr. told the committee: “I don’t know.” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, on the other hand, testified that Trump’s “primary residence has a blocked [phone] line.”
Asked directly if he had told his father about the meeting, Trump Jr. said, “I never discussed it with him at all.”
The phone calls began on June 6, 2016. That morning, Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone, music producer for Emin Agalarov, the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov. Goldstone wrote that the Kremlin “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” and Trump Jr. should talk to Emin to arrange a meeting to obtain it.
Minutes after speaking to Emin, Trump Jr. placed a four-minute call to a blocked number.
Another reason why this should not be surprising is that Donald Trump acted like he knew about the details of the meeting, that Russians would be providing dirt on Hillary Clinton, when he announced, in public, two days prior to the meeting, that he would soon have dirt on Hillary Clinton that he would be sharing with the world:
Candidate Donald Trump vowed to expose dirt on his political opponents Bill and Hillary Clinton just two days before the controversial 2016 Trump Tower meeting that his former lawyer Michael Cohen insisted Trump knew about.
Trump never delivered on his promise after his eldest son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in 2016. The men expected to be presented with damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but the attorney failed to deliver, Donald Trump Jr. told Senate investigators.
His father’s promised speech on the Clintons then sank without a trace.
Trump railed against Hillary Clinton to supporters after he won the New Jersey primary that same week. “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” he told them. “I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.” (He announced the Clinton speech in the video above at 7:08)
Donald Jr.′s meeting with Veselnitskaya took place two days later on Thursday, June 9. His father’s promised June 13 speech never occurred, and no explanation was ever offered.
Yet another reason why this should not be surprising is that we have seen multiple instances that have shown that Donald Trump knew about the details, and/or was personally involved in unethical and/or illegal actions being undertaken by his subordinates.
For example, Michael Cohen swore in court that Donald Trump was negotiating with Russia well into the Presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, admitted in court on Thursday that he had engaged in negotiations to build a tower in Moscow for Mr. Trump well into the 2016 presidential campaign, far later than previously known.
Mr. Cohen said he discussed the status of the project with Mr. Trump on more than three occasions and briefed Mr. Trump’s family members about it. He also admitted he agreed to travel to Russia for meetings on the project.
Of course, this showed that Donald Trump repeatedly lied about his business relations with Russia. But that isn’t entirely surprising. Donald Trump is a liar. He has lied constantly about almost everything. What is perhaps even more interesting about this revelation is that it showed that Donald Trump was being personally kept in the loop about something that was, at the least unethical, and possibly illegal.
This was also not the first time Michael Cohen had sworn in court about how he had personally spoken with Donald Trump about potentially unethical and/or illegal actions he was taking. Recall that in late August, Michael Cohen swore in court that he had made illegal campaign contributions, in the form of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, in coordination with and at the direction of Donald Trump:
Michael Cohen, the former longtime fixer and personal attorney for Donald Trump, appeared in federal court in New York Tuesday afternoon, pleaded guilty to eight counts and said that he made illegal campaign contributions “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”
The “candidate” Cohen referred to was not named in court or in the criminal information charging document but one of Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny Davis, later said that Cohen had “testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime.”
The campaign finance violations are associated with Cohen’s role in alleged hush money agreements with two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claim to have had affairs with Trump.
To further substantiate his sworn statement, Michael Cohen also released a recording of him speaking with Donald Trump about those illegal payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal:
Trump’s involvement in the details of unethical and/or illegal actions is not an aberration. It hasn’t only been Michael Cohen who has been shown to have discussed the details of potentially unethical and/or illegal actions with Donald Trump. Recall that in July of 2017, when news broke of a meeting that had taken place in June 2016 in Trump Tower NYC between Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and some Russians, a meeting that involved discussion of information the Russians may have had about Hillary Clinton, and involved discussion of sanctions that the Russians wished to have removed, the initial and untruthful response given by Donald Trump Jr. was in fact dictated personally by his father, Donald Trump:
The lawyers’ memo acknowledged that President Trump had indeed dictated an initial statement to the New York Times. It went on to defend the president’s message as “short but accurate.”
“You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump Jr.,” said the Jan. 29, 2018, letter from attorneys Jay Sekulow and John Dowd.
However, the original explanation for the meeting was not as accurate as the lawyers’ asserted.
The statement from Donald Trump Jr. said the meeting focused “primarily” on Russian adoptions. But while the adoptions were indeed mentioned at the meeting, there is evidence that the broader topic of sanctions against well-connected Russians under the Magnitsky Act received significant attention.
So, we know that Donald Trump was personally involved in talks that were being made during the Presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, just as we know that Donald Trump was personally involved in making illegal hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and just as we know that Donald Trump was personally involved in dictating an untruthful explanation of the purpose of the Trump Tower NYC meeting between Russians and his son, son-in-law, and campaign manager.
Considering how involved Donald Trump was in the details of those acts, are we to believe that Donald Trump had zero knowledge at the time of the Trump Tower NYC meeting itself? Apparently, that is what Donald Trump and Paul Manafort wanted people to believe. But Robert Mueller appears not to believe that, and likely because he has proof.
This brings up a few more questions it would seem likely the Mueller investigation is wondering about with regards to Donald Trump’s knowledge of what was being done by his subordinates. Are we to believe that Donald Trump had zero knowledge of the actions of his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who appears to have been illegally negotiating with both Russia and Turkey before and after the campaign? Are we to believe that Donald Trump had zero knowledge of the deep associations his Campaign Manager Paul Manafort had with Russian oligarchs, including attempts Manafort was making during the campaign to settle a multi-million dollar debt with one of them? Are we to believe that Donald Trump had zero knowledge of the actions that were being taken by his Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos, who was busy meeting with Russian associates about Hillary Clinton’s hacked e-mails? Are we to believe that Donald Trump had zero knowledge about his longtime associate Roger Stone’s attempts to coordinate with Wikileaks about the release of Hillary Clinton’s hacked e-mails?
The answers to those questions might be coming soon.