Cohen's Trump Tower Lies Were Part Of Mueller's Questions For Trump

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And nothing said in court, or in associated court filings, addressed whether Trump or his aides had directed Cohen to mislead Congress.

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress over the ongoing Russia investigation in connection with a Moscow real-estate deal and Russian contacts pursued during the 2016 election.

In 2015, BuzzFeed News reported in May, Cohen met with sometimes Trump adviser Felix Sater about the possibility of licensing the Trump name for a massive tower in Moscow, potentially the tallest building in Europe.

That Mueller used Cohen's false congressional testimony to charge him in federal court serves as a warning to those who have already testified on the Russian Federation probe as well as those who will do so under Democratic control.

Cohen's new guilty plea is the latest development in a wide-ranging investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Not only did Cohen brief Individual 1 on his discussions with Kremlin officials, they even discussed taking a trip.

Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.

Trump has repeatedly said that he had no business dealings in Russian Federation, tweeting in July 2016, "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia" and telling reporters in January 2017 that he had no deals there because he had "stayed away". And lying to investigators, Mueller's office asserted, was an egregious violation of that agreement.

Trump Jr. also said that he did not believe the potential for future business in Russian Federation had affected policy decisions made by his father since.

As he left the White House shortly after the court proceeding concluded, Trump called Cohen "a weak person".

Sater and Cohen continued to email about the foundering project well into June 2016, soon after a much-scrutinized meeting at Trump Tower in NY between Trump's son, Don Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and several Russian attendees, purportedly to discuss the possibility of "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

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But after pleading guilty, he said his conscience required him to tell the truth about Trump.

Asked by reporters if she was concerned about Mr Cohen's plea, top House of Representatives Democrat Nancy Pelosi said, "Of course, he lied to the American people".

President Trump said Cohen is "lying about a project that everybody knew about" in order to get a reduced sentence. "I said I would confirm and revert".

Trump would continue to sporadically announce plans for a Russian tower well into the current decade, including at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Whitaker was advised of the plea ahead of time, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mr Cohen has previously said he would "take a bullet" for the President.

Both Trump and Moscow have denied any wrongdoing.

The charges were handled by Mueller's team, not the federal prosecutors in NY who handled Cohen's previous guilty plea in August to other federal charges involving his taxi businesses, bank fraud and his campaign work for Trump.

Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have admitted that campaign leaders went into the meeting expecting material that would be useful against the Democratic presidential nominee but said that this is common practice in politics and that nothing came from it.

Neumeister reported from NY.

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