WASHINGTON — The drumbeat of activity surrounding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation continued on Thursday, as President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen plead guilty to making false statements to Congress about his attempts to secure a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen entered the plea in a New York federal court, according to CNN. The one charge of making false statements had to do with testimony he gave to Congress. He told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the efforts to secure a deal for Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January of 2016, but he actually discussed the project after that time frame, well into the presidential race.
The guilty plea is based on a charge brought by Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Vladimir Putin’s regime.
In a document filed in federal court, Mueller said that the Trump Tower project was discussed “multiple times” within the Trump Organization and continued as late as June, 2016. Mueller also said that Cohen discussed the project with Trump, identified as “individual 1,” on more than the three occasions that Cohen claimed to the Senate committee. He also discussed the project with Trump’s family members, and had a 20 minute conversation in January, 2016, with an assistant to the press secretary for Vladimir Putin, and he asked for help in moving the project forward.
Cohen already plead guilty to fraud and tax charges, but it was in a case brought by New York prosecutors following a raid on his office and home last spring. The charges included those related to payments that Cohen made as a hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claim to have had sexual relations with Trump. When he plead guilty in August, Cohen said that he made the payments at the direction of Trump.
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Trump has been sharply criticizing Mueller’s investigation, now comparing it to the allegations that Senator Joseph McCarthy leveled against suspected communists in the 1950s.
In remarks to reporters before he left on a trip to the G20 summit, Trump said that Cohen was a “weak person and not a very smart person” and that he was trying to get a reduced sentence. He said that he did not end up doing the Trump Tower project, but that he was within his rights to conduct business during the presidential campaign.
He tweeted on Thursday, “When will this illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt, one that has shattered so many innocent lives, ever end-or will it just go on forever? After wasting more than $40,000,000 (is that possible?), it has proven only one thing-there was NO Collusion with Russia. So Ridiculous!”