Donald Trump's 'fixer' pleads guilty to lying to Congress

Larry Hoffman
November 30, 2018

Cohen admitted in federal court Thursday that Trump spoke with him more extensively about the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow than he previously told Congress, pleading guilty to a charge brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

"He's a weak person and not a very smart person", Trump told reporters of Cohen.

Cohen admitted that he spoke to a Kremlin official during the United States presidential election in 2016 to try to land Russian government support for a project to construct a Trump building in Moscow. "I mean, we were very open with it". He added: "There would be nothing wrong if I did do it".

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.

Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., have admitted they went into the meeting expecting material that would be useful against their opponent but said that is common practice in politics and that nothing came from it.

Cohen did agree to travel to Russian Federation in connection with the Trump Tower Moscow project "and took steps in contemplation of [Trump's] possible travel to Russia", according to court papers.

Then on Thursday, local time, Cohen appeared in a NY court room and confessed to misleading Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

It comes after Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to making false statements to Congress about the project. While the president does have executive authority to pardon any individual, Jackson Lee said any sign of "attachments or quid pro quos" to the pardon, such as Manafort hiding damaging information about Trump from investigators, would be "worthy of investigating".

"I knew at the time in that I asserted that all efforts had ceased in January 2016, when in fact they continued until June 2016", Cohen said.

Napolitano said that Mueller's investigation could continue "well into 2019".

Prosecutors said in a court document that Cohen had misled Congress to give a false impression that the Moscow project had ended before the Iowa caucus and first Republican presidential primary in 2016.

Trump called Cohen a "weak person" who is lying to get a lighter sentence.

Mueller also is examining whether any of Trump's associates conspired with Moscow to influence the election's outcome.

Cohen's guilty plea could add pressure on Trump as the Russian Federation probe deepens. Sentencing has been set for December 12.

But Cohen's admission seems to bring Mr Mueller one step closer to the doors of the Oval Office, particularly any accusations of attempts to cover up connections to Russian Federation.

Cohen already plead guilty to fraud and tax charges, but it was in a case brought by NY prosecutors following a raid on his office and home last spring. Cohen testified in August that Trump had directed him to commit a crime by arranging payments to silence two women who alleged before the 2016 election that they had affairs with Trump.

He had also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion, as well as bank fraud, related to his personal finances and management of taxi medallions.

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