Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying about Russian Federation deal

Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying about Russian Federation deal

Donald Trump's longtime lawyer and fixer has pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigations into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, and admitted that he had been involved in talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow months into the 2016 USA presidential campaign.

Flanked by his lawyers, Cohen admitted making false statements about the project in 2017 to Senate and House intelligence committees, which at the time were investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. He later said he was cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling and ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

"These developments make clear that my colleagues and I must step in and provide accountability", said Nadler (D-NY).

Cohen worked for Trump's business and for him personally for almost a dozen years.

Thursday's plea was regarding Cohen's false testimony to Congress about Trump's efforts to build a hotel in Moscow.

The new timeline established by Cohen's plea means that the talks with Russians and the Russian government were ongoing when Trump became the GOP front-runner and not long before he formally became the party's nominee.

Mr Trump said his former right-hand man was "lying" to seek a reduced sentence.

The president also said he had not explicitly offered a pardon to Manafort, but: "I'm not taking anything off the table".

As he left the White House shortly after the court proceeding concluded, Trump called Cohen "a weak person".

"Cohen discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with [Trump] on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed to the Committee, and he briefed family members of [Trump] within the Company about the project", according to the charging document.

Cohen said he also lied about his contacts with Russian officials, lied when he said he never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project and never discussed with Trump plans to travel to Moscow to support the project.

"Playtime is over", said Rick Wilson, a prominent Republican critic of Trump who has been sounding the alarm about Trump's connections to Russian Federation since 2016.

Reacting to the plea, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Cohen "should be prosecuted to the extent of the law".

The document does not identify Individual 2, but people familiar with the investigation said it is Sater.

"These false statements regarding the continued pursuit of a Moscow-Trump Tower deal during much of the presidential campaign only underscore the importance of a thorough investigation into any financial entanglement between Trump and Russian Federation", he said.

"As Cohen well knew, Cohen's representations about the Moscow Project ... were false and misleading", the court filing says.

Trump Jr. was asked, according to a transcript of the remarks released by the committee. He has also spread an unproven and unsupported theory that Mueller's team is coercing people close to Trump to lie about him to bring down his presidency. But both Mueller's and Manafort's legal teams requested in their Monday court filing that a judge move forward without delay in scheduling a sentencing hearing, making it unclear whether the February sentencing date could be moved up.

In August Cohen, who had been Mr Trump's personal lawyer for more than a decade, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

Neumeister reported from NY.

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