No biggie. Just a hint from the president’s lawyer that he might soon be facing a perjury charge over a key fact in the Russia collusion investigation.
Mueller is set to file court documents today describing the lies Manafort allegedly told him during their “cooperation” sessions. It’s fair to assume Rudy expects something about this in those filings and is trying to get ahead of the news cycle. Why wait to spin bad news after it drops when you can spin it before it does?
POTUS has always insisted that he didn’t know about Don Jr’s (and Manafort’s and Jared Kushner’s) meeting with the Russian lawyer to discuss Hillary dirt at Trump Tower in summer 2016. Was that true?
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has made clear to Paul Manafort’s attorneys that they believe the former Trump campaign chair is lying to them about President Donald Trump, according to the President’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.
“In the questioning of Manafort, they did tell them at the time that they believed he was lying about certain things related to us that he’s not lying about,” Giuliani told CNN…
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.
It’s not perjury unless POTUS claimed *under oath* that he didn’t know about the meeting at the time. But, er, according to reports last week, he did claim under oath in his written answers to Mueller that he didn’t know about the meeting. If the special counsel has evidence that he did know, then Trump has a major problem.
And there’s circumstantial evidence that he knew. Ben Shapiro reminds us:
On June 7, [2016,] the day the meeting was confirmed between Trump Jr. and Goldstone, Trump gave a speech in which he stated, “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. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
That speech was never given. Team Trump insists it had nothing to do with the Trump Tower meeting that was eventually held on June 9, but it’s always seemed a bit too coincidental that POTUS was previewing dirt on Hillary Clinton, that Don Jr and other aides met with the Russian lawyer a few days later to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton, that they came up empty, and that Trump then seemingly forgot about his big speech. If Trump wasn’t teasing Russian-supplied dirt then what was he teasing? And if he was teasing Russian-supplied dirt, then he must have known about the meeting in advance.
Whatever this means for Trump Sr, it may explain the reports lately about Don Jr allegedly telling friends that he’s worried about being indicted. Junior’s effort in arranging the Trump Tower meeting is his most prominent role in Russiagate. If he’s going to be indicted for anything, chances are it’s related to that. And if Mueller thinks POTUS lied about the extent of his knowledge of the meeting, I’d imagine he’s also eyeing any testimony from Don Jr to the same effect, that dad didn’t know. Is Junior now in jeopardy of perjury? Is Jared Kushner, who was at the same meeting?
One thing I don’t understand, though. The big news last week was that Manafort had been operating as a sort of double agent for the White House, sending his lawyer to huddle with Trump’s lawyers about what he had learned during his “cooperation” sessions with Mueller. If that’s so, and if Manafort tipped Trump and Rudy to the fact that Mueller believed Trump knew in advance about the Trump Tower meeting, then why didn’t Trump admit to advance knowledge in his written answers? Why leave himself open to a perjury charge?
Here’s Dem Rep. Jackie Speier claiming that she believes Don Jr lied at least twice to her House committee. Exit question: Who might have given Mueller the idea that the Trumps were lying about advance knowledge by the president of the Trump Tower meeting? Hmmmmm.
Rep. Jackie Speier believes Donald Trump Jr. lied to House Intel Committee on "at least two occasions" pic.twitter.com/lvBxHY6VVe
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) December 7, 2018