The former personal attorney to President Donald Trump on Thursday pleaded guilty to lying about the Russia investigation.
Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a Manhattan court to misleading Congress about the investigation into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia.
ABC reported that Cohen gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller some 70 hours of testimony on contacts with Russians by Trump associates during the campaign, as well as the president’s business ties, obstruction of justice and talk of possible pardons.
His lawyer told a crowd of reporters that Cohen had and will continue to cooperate. Cohen didn’t comment.
According to the information, Cohen made a false statement regarding a proposed Trump Tower deal in Moscow.
Cohen had previously said that the deal was stopped in January 2016. Cohen now says the deal talks continued with Russian officials through June, by which time Trump was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. In fact, in January 2016, Cohen received a response from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary and discussed the project with someone in that office.
Cohen also is now saying that he agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project — and that he took steps in contemplation of a possible Trump trip there.
Trump, from the White House lawn, called Cohen “a weak person” and said his former lawyer is lying to get a reduced sentence. The president said he didn’t know when he decided to drop the Moscow project.
“There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it,” Trump said. He said he wanted to focus on running a president, “not building a building.”
“Even if he was right, it doesn’t matter,” Trump added.
The development with Cohen is notably significant as others who have pleaded guilty after being charged by Mueller have been less cooperative. Mueller ended a plea agreement with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, this week, with The Wall Street Journal reporting a disagreement between the two sides on the truthfulness of Manafort’s testimony on his personal business dealings and a former associate in Ukraine.