On Thursday morning, Michael Cohen, a former attorney and confidant of President Trump, pleaded guilty to knowingly and willfully making false or otherwise misleading statements to Congress.
The admitted lie in question concerned a real estate deal in Russia that Cohen handled, which was previously misrepresented to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Cohen told the judge he lied about the timing of the negotiations and other details to be consistent with Trump’s “political message.”
Cohen and prosecutors referred to Trump as “individual one” throughout Thursday’s proceedings and said he lied “to be loyal to Individual One.”
Among other lies, Cohen said he told Congress that all discussions of the Moscow Trump Tower project ended by January 2016, when they had actually continued until June of that year.
According to court documents, the prosecution claims “COHEN made the false statements to (1) minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 and (2) give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus and… the first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”
And: “On or about August 28, 2017, the defendant MICHAEL COHEN, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully made a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation, to wit, COHEN caused to be submitted a written statement to SSCI containing material false statement about the Moscow Project, discussions with people in the Company and in Russia about the Moscow Project, and contemplated travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project.”
President Trump was asked by a group of reporters about the plea and about Cohen’s cooperation with the ongoing Mueller investigation, ABC News reports.
“He [Cohen] was convicted of various things unrelated to us, he was given a fairly long jail sentence, and he’s a weak person,” the president said. “By being weak—unlike other people you watch—he’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.”
According to the report, Cohen and the Mueller investigative team have scored a tentative plea deal:
The news of the agreement comes during a tumultuous week in the Mueller investigation. On Monday, the special counsel’s plea deal with Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafortofficially collapsed, with prosecutors alleging that Manafort breached the pact by lying to federal agents and government lawyers during interviews. Manafort’s attorneys dispute the allegations that he lied.
The president this week has been ratcheting up his criticisms of the investigation and Mueller’s team, accusing the prosecutors in a Wednesday tweet of “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts” and likening the inquiry to the dark period in American history when Republican U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy sought to expose alleged communist sympathizers in the 1950s.