Michael Cohen, the president's former longtime attorney and fixer, is claiming that Donald Trump knew and approved of a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer — and he is willing to tell investigators about what he knows, according to multiple reports.
Cohen alleges he was in the room with a number of others when Donald Trump Jr. informed then-candidate Trump of the planned meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, CNN and NBC News reported Thursday evening, both citing anonymous sources.
Cohen claims Trump approved of the meeting moving forward, the news organizations reported, and is willing to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller his version of the events.
There is no recording of the alleged meeting, CNN and NBC reported.
The 2016 meeting, just ahead of the presidential election, and what the president knew at the time has been up for debate since it was reported by the New York Times.
The meeting was arranged through emails between a publicist and Trump Jr. The emails, which were later released, show that Trump Jr. was offered documents and information that "would incriminate" Clinton and that the offer was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
At first, Trump Jr. said he never told his father of the meeting then later told Senate investigators that he couldn't recall who he spoke with that night. His father used a blocked phone number at his home at the time, according to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Whether or not President Trump knew about his son's meeting with Russians is one of the central unanswered questions in a wide-ranging investigation into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
After the reports indicating Cohen would say otherwise, Alan Futerfas, an attorney representing Trump Jr. told USA TODAY that "We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump, Jr., and on his behalf."
The relationship between Cohen and the president has soured dramatically in the months since investigators raided Cohen's house, hotel and office. He once was one of Trump's most loyal and trusted workers — acting as both his lawyer and personal fixer — but has now become one of the president's biggest foes.
The quiet feud between the pair was catapulted into the national spotlight this week with the airing of a taped conversation the two men had in 2016 about payments revolved around Karen McDougal, a former Playmate who alleges to have had an affair with Trump.
Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN as the news broke Thursday evening, saying Cohen has "lied all his life" and is only saying this because his "back is up against a wall."
In a remarkable interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Giuliani made the case that Cohen has no credibility and would be a death sentence if named a witness in any case Mueller may bring.
He characterized Trump hiring and trusting Cohen as a "mistake," adding "anyone can Brutus Ceaser."
Giuliani said he was there when the president learned he'd been recorded by Cohen and said Trump was "completely shocked."
"He was disappointed almost like a father that had been betrayed by his son," he said.
He also gave new insights to the more than 100 other secret recordings Cohen made, saying Cohen is heard on the tapes being very "bitter" about not receiving a position in Trump's cabinet and was "very jealous and bitter" about Trump's children.
He also talked briefly about a secret tape of an interview between Cohen and Cuomo where Cohen discusses the payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims to have had an affair with Trump and was paid $130,000 for her silence, along with the secret recording released this week between Trump and Cohen.
"The man is a liar," Giuliani says. "There's no way you're going to bring down the President of United States on the testimony, uncorroborated, of a proven liar."