Donald Trump is facing an ‘ultimate nightmare scenario’
DONALD Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen has claimed the president knew in advance of an infamous pre-election meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
In a bombshell claim, Mr Cohen said he was with the President when Donald Trump Jr told him Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton at a June 2016 meeting, CNN reports.
The network noted Mr Cohen doesn't have evidence to back this up, but he's willing to discuss it with special counsel Robert Mueller, who has launched an investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
These claims contradict ongoing statements from the president, his son and their legal teams that Mr Trump knew nothing about the June meeting.
Mr Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has blasted Mr Cohen in response, reiterating their ongoing line that the president knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting.
He called Mr Cohen a "pathological liar".
"He's been lying all week. He's been lying for years. I don't see how he has any credibility."
"Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and Congressional investigations," said Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Donald Trump Jr. "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 June 2016 meeting was arranged through a publicist, who told Trump Jr in emails that a senior Russian official "offered to provide the Trump campaign" with damaging information about Ms Clinton.
The publicist said the outreach was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump".
When news of the meeting broke in July last year, the president repeatedly claimed he was never aware of it until a year later, but several critics cast doubt on these claims.
WEISSELBERG UP FOR INVESTIGATION
The man who may hold some of Donald Trump's deepest secrets is up for investigation, in news that will no doubt make the US leader shiver.
A federal jury investigating Mr Cohen has subpoenaed the chief financial officer of his company, Allen Weisselberg, to testify.
Mr Weisselberg, who has worked closely with the Trump Organisation for decades, is considered a witness in the probe of Mr Cohen, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A former Trump Organisation employee told CNN his being subpoenaed is the "ultimate nightmare scenario for Trump", because Mr Weisselberg knows "anything and everything" about the financial details of the organisation.
"Allen knows where all the financial bodies are buried.
"Allen knows every deal, he knows every dealership, he knows every sale, anything and everything that's been done - he knows every membership. Anything you can think of," the source said.
It was unclear whether Mr Weisselberg had gone before a grand jury.
Last week, the network published a recording from September 2016 of a conversation between Mr Cohen and Mr Trump discussing how they would buy the rights to Playboy model Karen McDougal's story about an alleged affair with Trump.
At one point in the conversation, Mr Cohen could be heard mentioning Mr Weisselberg by name.
"I've spoken with Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up," he said in the recording.
The payment to Ms McDougal was never made, according to Mr Trump's current lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Mr Weisselberg has also been linked to the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who claimed she and Mr Trump had an affair in 2006.
According to The New York Times, it was Mr Weisselberg who set up the $35,000 retainer that Mr Cohen received from Mr Trump's personal trust - as a repayment to Mr Cohen for the hush money. It's unknown if Mr Weisselberg knew what the retainer was for.
Last week, Mr Trump issued a series of furious tweets over the news that Mr Cohen had secretly recorded their conversations.
Echoing his previous complaints, the President called Robert Mueller's investigation a "rigged witch hunt" under the control of "13 angry Democrats".
The subpoena could be a big deal. Mr Weisselberg has spent decades working for the Trump Organisation, and worked for the Mr Trump's father, Fred.
He was also listed as treasurer for the Trump Foundation, and reportedly did Mr Trump's personal tax returns for some years.
This means if there's anything dodgy in Mr Trump's finances - or that of his organisation - Mr Weisselberg is the man who knows about it.
The President will no doubt be shaking over this.