Michael Cohen has admitted he lied about a Trump property deal in Russia during the 2016 election.
President Donald Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. Michael Cohen said he did so out of loyalty to Donald Trump.
The president said his former right-hand man was “lying” to prosecutors in the hope of receiving a reduced sentence.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether Donald Trump colluded with it.
In August, Michael Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 election by handling hush money for Donald Trump’s alleged lovers.
Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on November 30, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.
The president’s former lawyer said at the hearing that he had submitted a false written statement about a Trump Organization plan to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital.
He said in court: “I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1.”
Michael Cohen has previously identified “individual 1” as Donald Trump.
He was interviewed in October 2017 behind closed doors by lawmakers conducting their own investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to sway the US election two years ago.
According to the criminal complaint, Michael Cohen told the Senate and House intelligence committees that talks over the Moscow project had lasted from September 2015 until January 2016, while Donald Trump was running for the White House.
However, the document says that “as Cohen well knew”, negotiations over the Moscow project continued until June 2016.
Michael Cohen also told lawmakers he had had limited contact with Donald Trump about the project, when in fact it had been “more extensive”.
Prosecutors said Michael Cohen had tried to give a false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Republican presidential campaign properly began in 2016.
In a press scrum outside court, Michael Cohen said nothing to reporters.
His lawyer said: “Mr. Cohen has co-operated. Mr. Cohen will continue to co-operate.”
As he left the White House for a G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mr
President Trump told reporters of Michael Cohen as he left the White House for a G20 summit in Buenos Aires: “He’s a weak person and not a very smart person.
“He’s got himself a big prison sentence. And he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up this story.”
The president told reporters of the Moscow real estate project, which never came to fruition: “When I’m running for president, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business.”
He added: “He’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it.”
Soon after those remarks, President Trump abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, citing the current Ukraine crisis.