By Michael Bryan
There is huge news in the Trump-Russia collusion story: Cohen claims Trump knew in advance of the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.
This is clear evidence of collusion with the Russians to sway the 2016 election. Trump knew in advance, and according to a source with knowledge of Cohen’s potential testimony, approved of the meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s support of his campaign. That’s simply collusion with Russia’s scheme to influence the election. One might spin it otherwise, I suppose, but most will read it as evidence of collusion.
But more than that, it is evidence of a very consequential lie by Trump’s son Don Jr.. Don Jr. testified under oath before Congress that his father hadn’t been told of the meeting. That means that Donald Trump may have instructed his son to lie about his knowledge of the meeting, which is evidence of a conspiracy to commit purgery, and possibly evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, as well.
Several news outlets have confirmed the story, but the odd thing about it is that this new evidence does not seem to come directly from Cohen. It makes sense that Cohen would not be the source since public disclosure of his knowledge weakens his hand in negotiation with prosecutors if he’s ever charged in connection with the materials seized from his home and office. Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis initially refused comment on the story, then later stated that the story didn’t come from Cohen.
Only one other party to that knowledge — Trump and his lawyers — would know what Cohen knew. The White House team of lawyers may perceive some advantage in taking this possible bargaining chip away from Cohen, but this revelation can only stoke the fires of the collusion story. I presume they knew it would come out sooner or later and think they can somehow neutralize the story by releasing it now.