Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress

Paul Manafort President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller has turned up the heat on Manafort threatening new criminal charg

Paul Manafort President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. Special counsel Robert Mueller has turned up the heat on Manafort threatening new criminal charg

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he made false statements to Congress about his role in Donald Trump's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, referred to in court documents as the "Moscow Project".

Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that Cohen is lying.

The Trump Tower deal - which never got off the ground - has been a focus of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign, The New York Times reported.

But now Cohen isn't solving problems for Trump, he's causing them.

Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress. In fact, he continued working on the project at least through June of that year, even discussing the possibility of Trump visiting Russian Federation after the Republican National Convention, prosecutors say.

On the heels of a New York Post interview in which President Donald Trump said a pardon for former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was not "off the table", incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler told Newsweek that, should the president pardon Manafort, the committee was prepared to investigate.

The Cohen revelation comes as Mueller's investigation is showing fresh signs of aggressive activity. He has said the project was in its early stages in the fall of 2015, as Trump's presidential campaign heated up. It is the second time the lawyer's legal woes have entangled Trump, coming months after Cohen said the president directed him during his campaign to make hush money payments to two women who said they had sex with Trump.

"Cohen discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed to the Committee, and he briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project", the filing adds.

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During the campaign, Cohen acted as Trump's point person in an attempt to build the Trump development in Moscow.

He also said he falsely told Congress he never took any steps toward traveling to Russian Federation, when in fact he had discussed travelling there, although he never did.

Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was a "counterintelligence imperative" for its members, in the new Congress, to continue to probe the Trump Organization's financial links to Russian Federation.

Trump said Thursday his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen was a "weak person" who was lying to get a reduced sentence after the fixer admitted misleading Congress over the Russian Federation investigation. Prosecutor say Cohen is cooperating with Mueller and has met with his team at least seven times.

"But zero, I mean I will tell you right now, zero, I have nothing to do with Russian Federation", he said.

The nine-page charging document for Cohen traces the behind-the-scenes communication about the project that had been discussed more than 20 years ago.

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.

Stone's statements about WikiLeaks have been under the microscope; Trump Jr.'s statements about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Moscow Project are also of interest. "Sentencing is set for December 12", said Guy Petrillo, another of Cohen's lawyers. He previously worked in the Canberra press gallery and recently finished a Masters of Journalism at Columbia University in NY.

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