Ahead of his G-20 summit in Argentina, President Trump re-iterated that the new Moscow Project controversy is nothing more than him running his personal business, as he claims he was allowed to do during his 2016 run for office.
In a pair of tweets, Trump said when he decided to run for office, he continued to manage his company, something he touted as “very legal and very cool.” The president also said that he was well within his right to do so, mentioning that he was open about his business on the campaign trail.
“Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail,” Trump said in the tweets. “Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!”
The tweets followed an incident on Thursday where Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress concerning his own involvement in the deal.
Per ABC News:
Trump called Cohen a “weak person” shortly after news broke earlier Thursday that Cohen had pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress in a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller — a groundbreaking development in the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
“He’s a liar,” Trump said as he left the White House for a summit in Argentina. “He’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.”
Cohen appeared in federal court in Manhattan Thursday where he entered a guilty plea to making misstatements to Congress in closed-door testimony last year about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In the New York courtroom, Cohen admitted to having lied about 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 agreed with the prosecution that he lied in order to remain loyal to Trump and to diminish Trump’s ties with Russia.
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.
Trump was asked Thursday about the new plea by a group of reporters at the White House. In response, the president called Cohen a “weak person” and said he was changing his earlier testimony to get a reduced sentence.
“What he’s trying to do, because he’s a weak person and not a very smart person, what he’s trying to do is end — and it’s very simple, he’s got himself a big prison sentence and he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story,” Trump said.