Mark Corallo, who briefly as spokesman for President Donald Trump‘s legal team, claimed Hope Hicks gave a different story to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
He was referring to the administration’s original explanation to The New York Times, which broke the story in July 2017 of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Hicks, then White House communications director, was on Air Force One when President Trump helped draft a response that the meeting was about Russian orphans.
A former Trump aide suggested Hope Hicks gave a different story to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting
Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated the Trump Tower meeting for his Russia probe
Mark Corallo briefly served as spokesman for President Donald Trump’s legal team
Meanwhile, Corallo had given a separate statement that claimed ‘participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for.’
Corallo recalled to ABC News how Hicks called him about that separate statement ‘started laying into me.’
‘Then she admitted that yes, they had crafted this statement on Air Force One and that they’d handled it. You know, she said, I had the New York Times handled and I’m going – you did? You work in the White House. This is a private matter. This is not the president’s conduct of his office. This is matters to do with him as a private citizen, really, not even him. This has to do with his son, son in law, and former campaign director. So, so I just I listened to her yell and then I said well you know you’ve probably made yourself a witness in a federal criminal investigation,’ he recalled.
Then he talked about how she called him again the next time and this time she had President Trump on the phone with her.
‘They both start to sort of lay into me and he’s laying into me for, for you know who approved this statement. I said, ‘Mr. President please talk to your lawyers about this. Don’t talk to me about this. Talk to your lawyers,” he said.
He told ABC News that he told the two that their statement on the meeting was inaccurate.
‘I just pointed out that the statement that they put out on Air Force One or from Air Force One was inaccurate. That this was not going to go away. And because it was inaccurate, an inaccurate statement – it was only going to inflame the story over the next few days and eventually the New York Times and every other, you know, media outlet was going to get the truth and then they were going to look, well, the way they did. Like they were trying to hide something,’ he said.
He said Hicks claimed that documents which showed the meeting was actually about something else would never be seen, which he worried would be an obstruction of justice.
‘I pointed out that the statement was inaccurate and that there were documents, that I understood there were documents that would prove that. Hope Hicks replied to me when I, when I said look there are you know there are documents. She said, well nobody’s ever going to see those documents. Which you know made my throat dry up immediately,’ he said.
He went on to add that he didn’t understand how ‘you would say something like that in the presence of the president the United States. That you would not be aware that that could be construed as obstruction. Right? The threat to withhold documents? Like what does that mean that no one’s ever going to see them? What are you gonna destroy them? She showed a complete lack of understanding of the situation and was completely in over her head.’
Corallo conceded a lack of intent made an criminal charge of obstruction unlikely.
But, he said, it could be used in impeachment proceedings against the president.
‘I wasn’t really worried as much about the stakes in a criminal investigation. I was more worried about a potential impeachment down the road. And, you know, that’s the kind of thing that definitely goes to, you know, impeachable offenses,’ he said.
Hope Hicks served as White House communications director; she’s seen here in the Oval Office with President Trump and press secretary Sarah Sanders
After Hicks left the White House she went to work for Fox
He confirmed he told the story to Mueller’s prosecuting team.
‘Oh, absolutely. They wanted to know, and they asked me, and they said, well, you know Miss Hicks says that that didn’t happen. And they asked me how sure I was, and I said 100 percent.’
Hicks’ actions, he said, were ‘reckless.’
Hicks, through her lawyer, has previously denied making the claim about the documents.
Originally, numerous White House aides and lawyers for the president denied that Trump had been involved in drafting his son’s statement that the meeting was on orphans.
Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s attorneys, said in 2017 that ‘the president was not involved in the drafting of that statement.’
But in July of last year, The Washington Post reported it was President Trump who personally dictated Trump Jr’s original statement to The Times, writing that it was about adoption.
In his original statement to The Times about the meeting, Donald Trump Jr. said: ‘It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.’
He added: ‘I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.’
But later the existence of an email chain was reported, which contained information setting up the meeting and revealed that Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
In the email exchange, Trump Jr. was told via an intermediary that the ‘high level’ information he would be offered about Clinton was ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump’ and would be ‘highly useful for your father.’
Trump Jr. wrote back: ‘If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.’
The president’s son posted the entire email exchange on Twitter after The New York Times informed him they had the emails and were going to publish them.