Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and longtime “fixer,” has increased the chances that Donald Trump Jr. will go to jail.
If Cohen can help federal prosecutors prove that President Donald Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower Russia meeting of June 9, 2016 — as Cohen now claims — the President’s son and namesake could be facing several federal criminal charges, including perjury.
The controversy concerns what the president knew about the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 between senior members of his campaign and Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was touting dirt on Hillary Clinton.
That meeting is being heavily scrutinized by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Cohen is reportedly preparing to testify to Mueller that he witnessed Donald Trump Jr. telling his father about the meeting before it took place. That is different from what Trump Jr. previously has said about his father’s knowledge of the meeting.
In extensive testimony under oath before the committee in September 2017, Patrick Davis, deputy chief investigative counsel asked Don Jr.:
“Did you inform your father about the meeting or the underlying offer prior to the meeting?”
And Donald Trump Jr. replied: “No, I did not.”
It was Donald Jr. who approved the time, location and participants in the meeting that included the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and a Russian-American lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin. He also brought to the Trump Tower conference table the then-chairman of Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, and brother-in-law Jared Kushner among others.
If Cohen’s claim about Don Jr. is ultimately proven to be true, the Don Jr. gave false testimony given under oath, which is perjury.
Appearing on MSNBC, Former defense attorney Danny Cevallos explained that Don Jr. now is facing several different federal charges. Cevallos said:
“If Don Jr. lied to Congress, there are about six different obstruction statutes that apply to congressional activities. The most obvious would be 1505, but as long as he intended to mislead or omit factual information, he can be charged with a crime, and this is very important, whether or not he was under oath.”
“If he’s under oath, it’s perjury. If he’s not under oath, it still might be section 1001. We’ve already seen others indicted, pleading guilty to the exact same crime.”
“A number of high-profile people in the past have been charged with this crime. It is a very easy crime to make out and does not require an oath. It essentially requires just a knowing intentional misleading or lying to an agent or Congress or obstructing some proceeding.”
Yesterday Senate Democrats said they want Don Jr. to come back to the Senate Judiciary Committee so they can ask him more questions about his previous testimony under oath. Several senators are now saying that the president’s son provided “false testimony” to the committee.
Both Bob Mueller’s team and the Senate Judiciary Committee think Donald Trump Jr. has some explaining to do. Right now it looks like they won’t be letting up on the president’s son, but will keep applying pressure until they get truthful answers from him.
Many people believe that bringing Donald Trump Jr. to justice and threatening him with jail time is the best way to apply leverage on the president. It remains to be seen if that will happen, but if Michael Cohen’s account is later verified and proven to be true then there is no question that Junior could be facing some serious jail time.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.