President Donald Trump’s former legal spokesman is expected to tell special counsel Robert Mueller about a previously undisclosed phone call in which White House aide Hope Hicks allegedly promised that emails from Donald Trump Jr. about a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer “will never get out,” The New York Times has reported.
The Times reported Wednesday that Mark Corallo, who resigned from his spokesman job in July, has accepted an interview request from Mueller’s team. Corallo reportedly plans to disclose that in the call, Hicks, the White House communications director, and Trump discussed the meeting that included Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer who was expected to give them negative information about rival Hillary Clinton.
“Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting — in which the younger Mr. Trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians — “will never get out.” That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said,” the Times reported.
″Mr. Corallo... told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said — either she was being naive or was suggesting that the emails could be withheld from investigators — but also that she had said it in front of the president without a lawyer on the phone and that the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.”
A lawyer representing Hicks strongly denied the claims.
“She never said that. And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false,” lawyer Robert P. Trout told the Times.
The Trump campaign initially claimed the meeting was arranged to discuss a program for adoption of Russian children by American families. However, news reports later revealed the meeting was actually focused on obtaining political information on Clinton. Trump Jr. later posted on Twitter a chain of email correspondence leading up to the meeting that showed he had been promised information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
″[I]f it’s what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. had written in response.
According to three people in contact with Corallo, Trump’s inner circle furiously debated how to respond when news reports on the Russian lawyer meeting surfaced last July, the Times reported.
Several statements were drafted and released by lawyers for various parties involved in the meeting. Corallo’s account is that he told both Trump and Hicks that a misleading statement for Trump Jr. to give to the press, which was reportedly drafted aboard Air Force One, would have negative consequences and that the emails between Trump Jr. and the Russian participants in the meeting would emerge.
The dynamic between Trump and Hicks was noted in Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
“Completely devoted to accommodating him, she, his media facilitator, was the ultimate facilitator of unmediated behavior. His impulses and thoughts ― unedited, unreviewed, unchallenged ― not only passed through him, but, via Hicks, traveled out into the world without any other White House arbitration,” Wolff wrote.
Wolff also wrote of Corallo’s reaction following the Air Force One meeting.
“Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone. Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome ― and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice ― quit,” he wrote.