On Monday, the company of a former Qatari diplomat and investor said they could not confirm this and had "no grounds for confirming it." Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, the owner of the company, was featured in a video showing Al-Rumaihi in the lobby of the Trump Tower in December 2016, accompanied by Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen.
On Tuesday, a CNN spokesman confirmed that Al-Rumaihi had attended a Trump Tower meeting at that time.
"Mr. Al-Rumaihi was at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016. He was there in his former role as head of Qatar Investments, an internal division of QIA, to accompany the Qatari delegation present at that time Sports Trinity spokesman met with CNN's Trump Transitional Officials, "He has not participated in any meeting with Michael Flynn and his involvement in the meeting has been limited."
Al-Rumaihi is currently at the center of a lawsuit in which a former business associate, Jeff Kwatinetz, claims Al-Rumaihi has attempted to bribe him for access to Steve Bannon, and boastfully boasted that Michael Flynn is not rejected "our money." (A spokesperson for Al-Rumaihi's sports group has called Kwatinetz's claims "xenophobic" and "worthless.") Kwatinetz was the co-founder of a three-on-three basketball league, along with Ice Cube al-Rumaihi as an investor. Kwatinetz and the League are suing Al-Rumaihi for allegedly rejecting their investment.
Al-Rumaihi's video at Trump Tower was first released on the weekend by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult movie actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against Michael Cohen.
A spokesman for Sports Trinity told Slate on Monday that the company had no basis to confirm that the material from Al-Rumaihi was: "We do not confirm and have no basis to validate the video," said Robert Siegfried, deputy chairman of communications company Kekst and Co., wrote to me on behalf of Sports Trinity.
It's not clear why the group changed their tone on Tuesday – less than 24 hours later.
As Avenatti commented on Twitter "one can not substantiate this to confirm the video" with her recording today [CNN] that he was there. It smells really bad. "One way to reconcile it seems to be merely denying that the two things ever conflicted.
"Nothing has changed," wrote Siegfried on Tuesday in an e-mail about the apparent contradiction. "Yesterday was a video and that was and is the answer from Sport Trinity. What you emailed today is a description of when Mr. Al-Rumaihi was in the Trump Tower and in what capacity."
For further clarification, Siegfried stopped responding to e-mails.
The Trump Tower meetings came shortly after a billion dollar oil deal between a Russian fossil energy giant and a Qatari sovereign fund, a deal that played a key role in the dossier of former British spy Christopher Steele. Steele sources claimed a reciprocal exchange between Trump officials, which included a mediation of this fossil fuel agreement in exchange for sanctions relief for Russia.
The CNN article stated that the spokesman for Trinity Sports did not explain which Trump Transitional Officers attended these meetings or the content of the meetings.
Here's a summary of my email exchange with Siegfried about the apparent contradiction:
Slate: These two statements are diametrically opposed, and I wonder what has changed between yesterday and today? Basically, I wonder why I was told a lie yesterday. If that was not a lie, I would also like to hear an explanation why it was not a lie.
Siegfried: Nothing has changed. The question was yesterday about a video and that was and is the Sport Trinity answer. What you emailed today is a description of when Mr. Al-Rumaihi was in the Trump Tower and in what capacity.
Slate: So: Mr. Al-Rumaihi's company Sports Trinity was aware that Mr. Al -Rumaihi was at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016, but has also "no basis to confirm" that Shots of Mr. Al-Rumaihi at Trump Tower on December 12, 2016 were actually footage of him in Trump Tower in December. 12, 2016, on the same day that he acknowledges that he was in the Trump Tower. That's your position, right?
Siegfried: I did not say that.
Slate: I am pleased to be able to present this for you: "Nothing has changed." The question was yesterday about a video and that was and is the Sport Trinity answer. "
Sports Trinity's answer on whether the video of Mr. Al-Rumaihi at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016 was a video of Mr. Al-Rumaihi at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016: "We do not confirm and have none Basis for Confirming the Video "
So: Sport Trinity has" no grounds to confirm the footage of Mr. Al-Rumaihi "in Trump Tower on December 12, 2016 was actually taken by him in the Trump Tower on the 12th. December 2016.
Today's statement is this: "Mr. Al-Rumaihi was at Trump Tower on December 12, 2016. He was there in his former role as head of Qatar Investments, an internal division of QIA, for the Qatari delegation Accompanying a spokesman for Trump Transition officials this day r SportsTrinity, a company that is co-owner Al Rumaihi. "He did not attend any meeting with Michael Flynn, and his involvement in the meetings was limited."
So, Mr. Al-Rumaihi's company, Sports Trinity, was aware that Mr. Al-Rumaihi was in the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016.
Combine the two things together: Mr. Al-Rumaihi's Sports Company Trinity was aware that Mr. Al-Rumaihi was at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016, but has "no grounds to support it." The shots of Mr. Al-Rumaihi at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016 were actually footage by him at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016, the same day he acknowledges that he was in the Trump Tower.
Again, this seems to be a pretty simple contradiction, and I would love you to explain to me why it's wrong if it's wrong.