Advertisement

Michael Cohen pleads guilty for lying about Trump real estate project in Russia

Click to play video 'Trump, others react after former attorney Michael Cohen pleads guilty' Trump, others react after former attorney Michael Cohen pleads guilty
WATCH: President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted Thursday he lied to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal he had pursued on Trump's behalf during the heat of the 2016 Republican campaign. – Nov 29, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about work he did on a Trump real estate deal 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.

READ MORE: Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen claims to have given ‘critical information’ to Mueller

“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:

Story continues below advertisement
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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

Click to play video 'Donald Trump: Even if Michael Cohen is right, which he isn’t, it doesn’t matter' Donald Trump: Even if Michael Cohen is right, which he isn’t, it doesn’t matter
Donald Trump: Even if Michael Cohen is right, which he isn’t, it doesn’t matter – Nov 29, 2018

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Click to play video 'Michael Cohen is a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying’: President Trump' Michael Cohen is a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying’: President Trump
Michael Cohen is a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying’: President Trump – Nov 29, 2018

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.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Cohen’s lawyer says client willing to cooperate fully with Robert Mueller

Click to play video 'Cohen’s lawyer says client willing to cooperate fully with Robert Mueller' Cohen’s lawyer says client willing to cooperate fully with Robert Mueller
Cohen’s lawyer says client willing to cooperate fully with Robert Mueller – Aug 22, 2018

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.

Trump and Cohen have been estranged since Cohen implicated Trump in court, saying he made the payments “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

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

Advertisement