President Donald Trump spoke more extensively during the presidential election with his-then attorney Michael Cohen about the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow than Cohen admitted to Congress last year, Cohen said while pleading guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
Cohen, who previously said talks about the Moscow project had ended in January 2016, just prior to the Iowa caucuses, said he had lied out of a sense of obligation to Trump.
“I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1 political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual-1,” Cohen said. Individual-1 was identified in court filings as Trump, and Cohen identified him as such in a New York courtroom Thursday.
He plead guilty earlier this year to eight counts in a separate case from the Manhattan US attorney’s office. Cohen did not have an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors on that case.
Thursday’s revelations are potentially significant because they appear to show that Trump was engaged in business dealings with Russia in the midst of a campaign in which Moscow interfered to help elect him.
They could also intersect with other information that Mueller knows to create political and legal jeopardy for the President.
Cohen was also charged in the Manhattan US attorney’s office case with tax fraud and false statements to a bank. He is scheduled to be sentenced in both cases on December 12. Cohen left the courthouse Thursday without making a statement.