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President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress About the Moscow Tower Project
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=47309"><span class="small">Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, BuzzFeed</span></a>   
Friday, 18 January 2019 09:23

Excerpt: "President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter."

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. (photo: ABC News)
Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. (photo: ABC News)


President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress About the Moscow Tower Project

By Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, BuzzFeed

18 January 19


Trump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.

resident Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.

Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.

And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1” — widely understood to be Trump — “in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”

Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.

The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.

This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

But Cohen's testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.

On the campaign trail, Trump vehemently denied having any business interests in Russia. But behind the scenes, he was pushing the Moscow project, which he hoped could bring his company profits in excess of $300 million. The two law enforcement sources said he had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign.

BuzzFeed News first reported last year that Cohen and an associate, Felix Sater, had continued working on Trump Tower Moscow through June 2016. Sater communicated with Russian bankers, developers, and officials connected to the Kremlin. That revelation was confirmed in Mueller’s filings against Cohen in court last November.

Attorneys close to the administration helped Cohen prepare his testimony and draft his statement to the Senate panel, the sources said. The sources did not say who the attorneys were or whether they were part of the White House counsel’s staff, and did not present evidence that the lawyers knew the statements would be false.

An attorney for Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel who reportedly gave about 30 hours of testimony to the special counsel, told BuzzFeed News: “Don McGahn had no involvement with or knowledge of Michael Cohen’s testimony. Nor was he aware of anyone in the White House Counsel’s Office who did.”

After Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the matter, Mueller’s team filed a memo in court saying he had offered them “credible” and “useful” information over the course of seven interviews. The special counsel wrote that Cohen had provided details about his contacts with “persons connected to the White House” in 2017 and 2018 and about how he had prepared his statements to Congress.

The White House did not return detailed messages seeking comment, nor did an attorney for Donald Trump Jr. or the Trump Organization.

A spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel declined to comment.

Cohen also declined comment — but the law enforcement sources familiar with his testimony to the special counsel said he had confirmed that Trump directed him to lie to Congress, and also that he had provided details of his conversations about the project with the president and Ivanka and Donald Jr.

Those three members of the Trump family have distanced themselves from the Moscow project, saying that they had little knowledge of the negotiations. But a picture of their deep involvement is now emerging, as FBI agents and prosecutors pore over witness interviews and internal documents from Cohen and other Trump Organization officials and executives.

Trump was even made aware that Cohen was speaking to Russian government officials about the deal. The lawyer at one point spoke to a Kremlin aide as he sought support for the tower.

Trump also encouraged Cohen to plan a trip to Russia during the campaign, where the candidate could meet face-to-face with Putin.

BuzzFeed News has previously reported that text messages and emails show Sater — a real estate developer, convicted stock swindler, and longtime asset for US government intelligence agencies — worked furiously to arrange a trip for Cohen to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where he was supposed to meet with top Russian bankers and government officials. Cohen told Sater that to advance the deal, Trump himself would also go to Russia, after the Republican National Convention in July 2016.

The trip to St. Petersburg never took place and the plans to build Trump Tower Moscow never came to fruition. But the negotiations occupy an important place in Mueller’s investigation, as agents try to learn whether it is connected to the Kremlin’s interference campaign and whom Trump associates were in contact with to close the deal.

After Cohen pleaded guilty last November, Trump defended his continued involvement in the Moscow project during the election, telling reporters: “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?”

Federal agents looking into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election also tried to clarify the roles that Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. played in the Moscow tower negotiations, the sources said.

In his plea deal with Mueller’s team, Cohen acknowledged that the conversations he had about the project with Trump exceeded the three short briefings he testified that he gave the president and that he also held more extensive discussions ab

Ivanka Trump was slated to manage a spa at the tower and personally recommended an architect. She also instructed Cohen to speak with a Russian athlete who offered “synergy on a government level” to get the Moscow project off the ground, in another aspect of the deal first revealed by BuzzFeed News that later was affirmed by the special counsel’s sentencing memo. Cohen rebuffed the athlete’s proposal, which angered Ivanka Trump, according to emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump's attorney wrote that she was only “minimally involved” in the project. “Ms. Trump did not know about this proposal until after a non-binding letter of intent had been signed, never talked to anyone outside the Organization about the proposal, never visited the prospective project site and, even internally, was only minimally involved,” wrote Peter Mirijanian.

Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 7, 2017, that he was only “peripherally aware” of the plan to build a tower in Moscow. “Most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few weeks.”

The two law enforcement sources disputed this characterization and said that he and Cohen had multiple, detailed conversations on this subject during the campaign.

Cohen will testify publicly before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 7.

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+4 # Robbee 2019-01-18 12:12
President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress About the Moscow Tower Project
Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, BuzzFeed
18 January 19

- "according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" - deep throats 1 & 2?
 
 
+1 # Robbee 2019-01-18 12:22
- this gun is smokin' hot!
 
 
-1 # harleysch 2019-01-19 04:15
****NEWS FLASH****
FAKE NEWS -- Mueller's office says this report is not true.

As with so many recent stories -- for example, Manafort visited Assange, Cohen in Prague -- this story has been debunked! Yet Democrats jumped in to say, as did Robbee, this is the smoking gun.

Instead of fighting for a progressive agenda, the obsession with impeaching Trump is turning the party into the war party (i.e., opposing troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan), much to the delight of anti-Trump GOP neocons!
 
 
0 # dandevries 2019-01-20 19:36
No, Mueller's demurral only means that some details are not exactly correct by Mueller's exacting standards. The overall report is yet one more piece of evidence of the outright criminality of the Drumpf family and organization.
 
 
-2 # Anne Frank 2019-01-18 14:25
"Sources said...?" If true, here's more evidence (as of we needed more) Trump is a dishonest jerk. It is no evidence, however, of any harm to the United States or any improper action by any Russian. But no nonsense is too preposterous if the deep state can use it to whip hatred in the masses, who might otherwise lack enthusiasm for endless war against all the world.
 
 
+3 # carytucker 2019-01-18 16:43
Quoting Anne Frank:
"Sources said...?" If true, here's more evidence (as of we needed more) Trump is a dishonest jerk. It is no evidence, however, of any harm to the United States or any improper action by any Russian. But no nonsense is too preposterous if the deep state can use it to whip hatred in the masses, who might otherwise lack enthusiasm for endless war against all the world.

'Preposterous nonsense' is quite at home in your comment.
 
 
+6 # lfeuille 2019-01-18 19:46
A president that repeatedly commits obstruction of justice is harming the country. If he gets away with it, why shouldn't everybody? Russia is beside the point. He is not just a jerk. He is a criminal and the president should not get away with running an ongoing criminal enterprise from the white house.
 
 
+6 # jon 2019-01-18 14:30
The only way this news gets any better is if Trump, somehow or other, throws McConnell under the bus in an ill-fated attempt to squirm out of this.
 
 
+7 # jon 2019-01-18 16:24
And, somehow or other, Pence, too.
 
 
+6 # MikeAF48 2019-01-18 18:49
OK Congress your brand new the people are beginning to push back I mean it's MUELLER TIME lets get it out unsealed.
 
 
-1 # harleysch 2019-01-19 11:09
Don't you think that Mueller's announcement that this story is not true should be reported on RSN? Now that the media, which was earlier pronouncing that this is the smoking gun they were looking for -- he, Robbee -- turned on the Buzzfeed story as another fine example of Fake News, will the RSN readers be informed of this?