Michael Cohen pleads guilty for lying about Trump real estate project in Russia
On Thursday morning, Cohen told a New York federal courtroom he lied during Congress’ investigation into whether Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election.
“I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual one’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual one,” Cohen said in court.
He previously identified “individual one” as U.S. President Donald Trump.
Court documents show he made false statements about the following:
- He said the property in Moscow was terminated in January of 2016, “which occurred before the Iowa caucus and months before the very first primary.” Court documents say the Russia project was discussed multiple times after January 2016.
- Cohen said he never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow building project and never considered asking “Individual 1” (Trump) to travel. Court documents say Cohen agreed to travel to Russia and took steps in contemplation of individual 1’s possible travel there.
- Cohen said he didn’t recall any Russian government response or contact about the project. Court documents say Cohen received a response from a Russian official about the Moscow project after January 2016.
Trump has repeatedly said he doesn’t have financial interests in Russia.
WATCH: Donald Trump says even if Michael Cohen is right, which he isn’t, it doesn’t matter
The president was asked about the Trump Tower project in a list of written questions by Mueller, and the New York Times reports that Trump’s answers line up with Cohen’s statements in court Thursday.
Despite that, Trump spoke to the media outside the White House, and called Cohen a “liar” and “weak person,” who is only trying to reduce his prison sentence.
Trump said he had decided not to build the building in Moscow, although he did not specify when he decided against pursuing the project.
“I had a position to do a deal,” Trump said. “I was allowed to do whatever I wanted to do during the campaign.”
“This deal was a very public deal, everybody knows about this deal. I was not trying to hide anything.”
WATCH: Michael Cohen is a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying,’ Trump says
Cohen was charged in connection to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and one of the prosecutors working with Mueller was present in the courtroom.
WATCH: Cohen’s lawyer says client willing to cooperate fully with Robert Mueller
Cohen’s lawyer told the judge the plea deal involved cooperation with Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations and other charges. Since then has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller’s team, ABC News reported.
A guilty plea may signal Cohen is hoping for a lighter sentence on the charges in exchange for continuing to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters
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