WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney for Donald Trump, pleaded guilty Thursday to making false statements to Congress surrounding efforts to build a Trump-branded development in Moscow.
According to filings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York brought forward by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Cohen “knowingly and deliberately” mislead the House and Senate Intelligence Committees last summer when he told them that plans for the Moscow project ended in January 2016 and that he had no discussions on the matter with Trump since that time.
In reality, Cohen now says that he spoke about the project with Trump, identified as “Individual 1” in the court filing, as well as members of his family as late as June 2016.
Cohen’s lies ran deeper, according to the filings.
The then-candidate’s attorney also told the committees that he ruled out the possibility of traveling to Russia and did not discuss the prospect of Trump himself going.
Cohen now states that he, in fact, did initially agree to travel before ultimately canceling.
He also spoke with both Trump and a campaign official about the prospect of Trump going as well.
Cohen also told Congress that he did not recall a response from Russia to an inquiry he sent via email in January 2016 attempting to set up a meeting.
He now says that he had a follow-up call with an assistant for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary.
According to the filings, Cohen made the false statements in order to “minimize links” between the project and Trump and to stymie investigators.
Cohen is currently cooperating with Mueller’s office, which is probing potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, telling the court that he had organized hush money to two women at the direction of then-candidate Trump in order to influence the campaign.
Speaking on the South Lawn Thursday prior to leaving for the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Trump dismissed the issue, calling Cohen a liar who was attempting to dodge a longer sentence.
The president also said that even if Cohen were telling the truth, he personally did nothing wrong and that his company would have been permitted to pursue his business interests.