NEW YORK – President Donald Trump’s personal former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday in a New York court to having lied to Congress about the now-president’s aborted project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
In a surprise appearance, Cohen came to a Manhattan federal court on Thursday morning to admit his guilt to a new charge.
Trump’s former lawyer and fixer admitted having lied to Congress about his involvement in business plans linked to potentially building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election campaign.
News of Cohen’s guilty plea drew a harsh reaction from the man he represented from 2007-2017.
“He’s a liar,” Trump told reporters upon leaving the White House for the G20 summit in Argentina. “He’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.”
In exchange for admitting his guilt and cooperating with prosecutors, who have already interviewed him on several occasions despite the fact that no prior plea bargain had been struck on this charge, the 52-year-old Cohen would presumably expect to receive a lighter sentence.
According to the legal documents presented by prosecutors, Cohen “knowingly and deliberately” lied when he told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Trump Tower construction proposal “ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others” in the Trump Organization.
Prosecutors said that Cohen, who at the time was acting as Trump’s executive vice president, tried to hide or minimize the fact that he continued discussing the project several times prior to June 2016, when allegedly he had stopped doing so in January, and he also took measures to prepare for a possible trip by Trump to Moscow.
In addition, prosecutors said that Cohen recalled that around January 2016 he received a response from the Russian president’s press secretary and spoke about the Moscow project with a member of that office.
In August, Cohen pled guilty in New York to several fiscal crimes not linked to the investigation into alleged coordination between Trump’s election campaign and the Kremlin to influence the results of the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen at the time linked Trump to two charges of violating campaign regulations in connection with payoffs to women who alleged they had sexual liaisons with the real estate mogul.