President Trump’s former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow while he was running for president. Cohen admitted in court Thursday that he lied when he said plans for Trump’s Moscow project ended before the Iowa caucus in February 2016. In fact, Cohen worked on the project up until June 2016 and continued to give direct updates to Trump, who is identified as “Individual 1” in the court documents. Cohen also admitted he directly spoke with a Kremlin official about the project and even considered arranging for Trump to travel to Moscow after the 2016 Republican National Convention. Cohen said he lied to Congress in an attempt to be consistent with Trump’s “political messaging” that the campaign had no ties to Russia. Michael Cohen’s admission comes less than two weeks before he is scheduled to be sentenced on other charges. In August, he pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. President Trump reacted to Thursday’s news by calling Cohen a liar who was trying to decrease his prison sentence. But Trump insisted he did nothing wrong.
President Donald Trump: “We had a position to possibly do a deal to build a building of some kind in Moscow. I decided not to do it. The primary reason—there could have been other reasons, but the primary reason, it was very simple: I was focused on running for president. There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?”
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News is reporting the Trump Organization planned to give a $50 million penthouse at the proposed Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.