Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, has pleaded guilty to lying with intent to mislead Congress about the timeline of real estate negotiations between Trump and Key Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump, Cohen, and others originally denied that any serious talks about a potential Moscow Trump Tower took place after January of 2016. On Thursday, November 29, however, Michael Cohen said that Trump had still been pursuing a deal in June 2016, when Trump’s presidential campaign was underway.
Trump has repeatedly said that after January 2016, he had “nothing to do with Russia,” and Cohen originally backed him up. On Thursday, however, Cohen admitted that this was not true, thereby raising questions about the veracity of statements by various members of Donald Trump’s family.
Though earlier, Michael Cohen had said that an email he sent the Kremlin regarding a potential real estate deal was never returned, he has now admitted that he did speak with a representative for Vladimir Putin about the deal. Cohen also admitted to an ongoing effort by the Trump Organization to seek Putin’s assistance in facilitating the deal.
On January 11, 2017, Trump tweeted, “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
Donald Trump continues to insist that Michael Cohen is lying (now lying about having lied).
Trump also claims not to have known about the Trump Organization’s real estate negotiations with Russia in advance, though Michael Cohen told Congress that he did brief Trump. This, then, brings up questions again about whether Donald Trump knew in advance about the now well-publicized meeting Trump Jr. and some Trump campaign officials planned with Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.
Trump has said that even if he had pursued the Trump Tower deal with Moscow, he wouldn’t have been breaking any laws. This is almost beside the point, since Cohen’s guilty plea has wider implications than just showing that Cohen himself, as well as Donald Trump, and possibly Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, have not been truthful in their accounts of their relationship with Russia.
It reinforces the evidence that the Trump Organization was already communicating with Moscow when Moscow was attempting to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It hardly matters whether Michael Cohen is lying now about having lied earlier, or whether he is telling the truth now about his previous lies to cover for Donald Trump; the can of worms has burst open.
Full Panel: Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress | Meet The Press | NBC News [2018-12-02]
Political fallout from Michael Cohen’s new plea deal | Fox News [2018-11-29]