In an upcoming interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, a former spokesman for President Donald Trump’s legal team is expected to allege that White House communications director Hope Hicks wanted to prevent the release of emails in which the president's son sought dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Mark Corallo, a long-serving communications adviser to the Republicans, was reportedly on a conference call including the president and Hicks last July, where they discussed the White House response to revelations in The New York Times that Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016, three of Corallo’s former colleagues told the Times on Wednesday.
Corallo will be interviewed in the next two weeks by Mueller’s team, which is investigating whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
Corallo reportedly said that Hicks had insisted during the call that emails sent to Trump Jr. to set up the meeting offering damaging information on Clinton “will never get out.” Corallo reportedly told the three sources about the conversation at the time.
Corallo did not dispute this account when contacted by the Times on Wednesday, but Hicks’s attorney said “she never said that.”
Days after the conference call between Hicks, Corallo and the president, the Times revealed Trump Jr. had sought damaging information on Clinton.
In the emails, Goldstone offers Trump Jr. “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” brokered through a Russian oligarch he represents.
The emails contradict the White House response to the original story about the Trump Tower meeting crafted by Hicks, Trump and other White House aides on Air Force One as they returned from the G-20 summit in Germany. (Hicks was White House director of strategic communications at the time and became communications director in September.)
The response attributed to Trump Jr. said that during the Trump Tower meeting, also attended by Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the participants "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
Corallo had crafted a different response, which was published by the online news outlet Circa, that said the Russians had “misrepresented who they were and who they worked for.”
The conference call with Corallo, Hicks and the president took place the day after and the Times' three sources said that Corallo defended the contents of his statement, arguing documents about Trump Jr.’s emails may eventually surface.
Corallo told his colleagues he was alarmed that Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out” since only a few people could access them.
“The idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false,” her lawyer Robert P. Trout said.
Corallo, who served as communications director for the U.S. Department of Justice in the George W. Bush administration, resigned from the Trump administration on July 20, 2017.
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