Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told the special counsel’s office that President Donald Trump directed him to lie to Congress about his work to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to a new report.
According to the report:
The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
The bombshell report, if true, would mark a significant development in the Russia probe. It would be the first evidence that Trump asked associates to lie about their links to Russia.
Democratic lawmakers pounced on the report Thursday night, saying they would open investigations into whether Trump suborned perjury or obstructed justice.
Some questions remain from the report, including when Trump supposedly instructed Cohen to lie to Congress and how the instruction was communicated.
Trump asked Cohen to lie to Congress about his Trump Tower work “after the election,” according to BuzzFeed.
It is not clear whether Trump allegedly asked Cohen to lie before or after he had even been asked by Congress to testify about Trump and Russia.
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 to lying to Congress in September and October 2017 about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen said in written and closed-door testimony that he ended negotiations on the deal in January 2016, before caucuses began in Iowa.
Cohen continued working to build Trump Tower through June 2016, he admitted in a plea deal with the special counsel. He partnered with Felix Sater, a Russian-American real estate developer who has worked for U.S. intelligence agencies in the past but who also has ties to Russian government officials.
Cohen at one point spoke with a top assistant to Dmitry Peskov, the right-hand man of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The longtime Trump fixer was sentenced to three years in prison on Dec. 12. In addition to his plea deal with Mueller, Cohen pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 in New York to tax evasion, bank fraud, and making illegal campaign contributions. Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 to prevent the porn star from going public about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen said that Trump directed him to make the payment, which was considered an excessive campaign contribution.
Cohen will soon have an opportunity to discuss the latest report. He will testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7. There is a chance that the hearing will be cancelled. Lanny Davis, a legal adviser for Cohen, said Thursday night that Cohen has considered backing out of the hearing due to concerns about some of Trump’s remarks.
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