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Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen Enters Plea, Gets Mueller Cooperation Deal

30 November 2018, 01:35 | Tara Lloyd


Michael Cohen

By entering into his first plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday, Michael Cohen drew the federal Russian Federation investigation closer to his one-time boss, President Donald Trump.

Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to one count of making false statements to Congress in its investigation into whether Trump's campaign worked with Russian Federation to sway the election.

On Monday Mueller accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating a cooperation deal by lying to investigators.

At issue is a proposal to build a skyscraper bearing Trump's name in Moscow.

Cohen had testified to both House and Senate intelligence committees that the Trump company's efforts to negotiate with Russian Federation over the "Moscow Project" ended in January 2016, before the Iowa caucuses.

Cohen and prosecutors referred to Trump as "individual one" throughout Thursday's proceedings and said he lied "to be loyal to Individual One". The committee then canceled the meeting with Cohen, upset that his remarks, which reiterated what he had said in his letter to Congress in August, had been leaked to the press.

"He's a weak person", Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn before departing for Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Trump speculated that "what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence". Now he says that they in fact continued until June of that year, by which point Trump had effectively won the Republican nomination for the presidency.

Nothing said in court, or in associated court filings, addressed whether Trump or his aides had directed Cohen to mislead Congress. "That was no deal".

"If they go down the presidential harassment track, if they want go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would be the best thing that would happen to me", the president said.

Court documents made public on Thursday said Cohen discussed the Trump Tower Moscow plan with the president and his family multiple times.

Cohen said he made the false statements to be consistent with Trump's "political message".

Trump denied in April that he knew anything about Cohen's payments to Daniels, though the explanation from the president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have shifted several times.

"Michael Cohen's indictment and guilty plea is once again an example that you can not lie to Congress without consequences", Burr wrote in a tweet this afternoon.

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Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, exits federal court, November 29, 2018 in New York City.

In the past few months, Trump has repeatedly criticized people who cooperate with federal investigations.

Cohen's guilty plea makes clear that prosecutors believe that Trump, who insisted repeatedly throughout the campaign that he had no business dealings in Russian Federation, was continuing to pursue the project weeks after he had clinched the Republican nomination for president and well after he and his associates have publicly acknowledged.

Trump said in October that Cohen's testimony was "totally false" and he minimized Cohen's role working for him, describing him as "a PR person who did small legal work".

In a statement provided to NPR Thursday afternoon, the president's lawyer didn't pull any punches when it came to Cohen.

"Mueller's star witness has now admitted to being a liar criminally", Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said.

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