It would appear that President Trump admitted that he lied in written answers given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his appearance at the White House this morning.
Trump began his Rose Garden presser by announcing that, “I don’t do cover-ups,” a moment reminiscent of Nixon’s “I am not a crook” declaration. But a few minutes later, he may have just revealed one of the most hotly contested points of the entire Trump Russia election investigations on live national television: that he knew that his son was meeting with a Russian lawyer who turned out to be linked to the Russian government.
“You heard so much talk about phone calls made that my son made to me from this meeting. . . For a year I heard about phone calls. . .” Trump continued, seemingly referring to the infamous June 9th, 2016 meeting where his son Don Jr met indicted Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. “Of the three calls, that were so horrible, that he had a meeting and called me, and had the meeting after and he made two more calls.”
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He's caught in a big lie here: Trump told Mueller in his (sworn) written answers he doesn't recall learning about the meeting (either that day or during the campaign at all), and that he doesn't recall speaking or meeting with Don. Jr. that day at all. https://t.co/AkMteEDvQ2
— Emily Q. Hazzard (@eqhazzard) May 22, 2019
That statement is pivotal because it directly contradicts the story that Trump gave under oath to Special Counsel Mueller in response to the prosecutor’s questions about who knew what when, over events that the Senate Intel Committee’s investigation is still probing. Don Jr. is set to testify to that panel early next month.
“Trump just admitted he received a call from Don Jr., before “the” meeting which corroborates Michael Cohen’s testimony to Mueller,” says attorney and MSNBC legal contributor Katie Phang. “It’s now fair to say that Donald Trump and his son have lied about the elder Trump knowing about this meeting happening, and why it happened.”
As they appear in the Mueller Report on page 419, the first question to the president was about his knowledge of the June 9th Trump Tower meeting:
The Mueller Report concluded on page 118, based on Trump’s answers and their exhaustive investigation that there was no documentary evidence of his knowledge that Don Jr. had met with the Russians.
“It’s a little bit “connect the dots” but it appears to be obstruction of justice, a lie, it’s perjury and he obstructed the Mueller investigation by lying to the Special Counsel. This is the danger of making these unscripted remarks,” says Phang. “You’ve got a blocked call on June 6th, which Trump now says is from his son, without using a date. Cohen said he was in person at Trump’s office during a discussion involving Trump Jr. on June 6th or 7th, which was about the June 9th meeting with the Russians moving forward.”
In fact, Trump himself tweeted about not knowing of the June 9th meeting this January after Senate investigators told the media that the phone calls in question were between Don Jr. and his business associates, Howard Lorber the CEO of Vector Group and NASCAR president William France, whom he referenced today.
Just out: The big deal, very mysterious Don jr telephone calls, after the innocent Trump Tower meeting, that the media & Dems said were made to his father (me), were just conclusively found NOT to be made to me. They were made to friends & business associates of Don. Really sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2019
It is a key piece of information because this is the first time we’ve had anything resembling proof that Don Jr. did inform his father of the meeting with people he believed to be agents of the Russian government from whom he solicited dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Trump told Mueller that he didn’t recall any knowledge of that fateful meeting when it is actually quite plain from the Rose Garden Rant that he does remember his son’s phone call from 1077 days ago and just told the world about it.
Earlier today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told her caucus today that “Trump is engaged in a cover-up” and “nobody is above the law.”
Apparently, those comments triggered Donald Trump, because he blew up at their long-scheduled “Infrastructure Week” meeting along with Democratic Senate leadership before going on his a staged diatribe.
While some have called Trump’s diatribe in the Rose Garden “impromptu,” it was a coldly calculated political move, complete with a pre-printed sign on the podium with statistics he would use to attack the Mueller Report that conveniently omitted the many convictions and indictments that the Special Counsel’s probe handed out.
“This further underscores that they were never going to let him be interviewed by Mueller, because if he doesn’t have a script to read, then he’ll admit to crimes. He just did. And he never even had to make this statement,” Phang told the Press. “Now, he doing himself in and his son, who has to testify to the Senate next month and already agreed that the Trump Tower meeting is fair game.”
And now it looks like the President may have just sold himself down the river, entirely on his own volition:
Watch the complete Rose Garden debacle here: