Former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen today pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, including by claiming negotiations between the Trump Organization and Russia to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the Trump campaign ended six months before they actually did. Cohen claims the motivation for his lies was to protect Trump and preserve Trump’s “political message”, according to The Hill, a message which included Trump claiming he had no business dealings with Russia in any way, shape, or form. According to The Hill:
Cohen, who served for years as Trump’s self-described fixer, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress related to his testimony about communications with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen said he was untruthful about his involvement in plans to build a Trump property in Russia in order to remain loyal to the president and consistent with his “political message.” The former Trump Organization official previously told Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, but emails showed that he continued to talk with a Russian developer about the project into the summer of 2016 and kept Trump informed of the talks…Cohen’s plea is significant because it deepens his cooperation with Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign and suggests the Trump Organization was more involved with Moscow than previously believed. Before taking office in January 2017, Trump insisted he had no business relationships with Russia. “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!,” he tweeted.
Cohen was already known to be cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation after his earlier plea deal, in which Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and committing bank fraud, at Trump’s direction and for Trump’s benefit, but Cohen’s plea deal today intensifies that cooperation, since cooperating was also a part of this deal. President Trump today called Cohen a “weak person” for taking this deal and Trump again alleges that the lying Cohen is doing is in the guilty pleas themselves in order to get a more lenient sentence. Before leaving for the G20 summit in Argentina, Trump told reporters, according to The Hill, speaking of Cohen, that “He’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So, he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about.” Trump has shown a renewed fervor for railing against the Mueller investigation via Twitter lately, today calling it not just his usual “Witch Hunt”, but an “illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt“, again without giving any evidence of the investigation being illegal.