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Michael Cohen strikes plea deal over lying about Russia project


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The charge brings Trump closer to an effort to obstruct probes into alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitted Thursday to a criminal charge of making false statements to Congress, with prosecutors saying he deliberately minimized the extent of discussions with Trump about a Moscow-based real estate project and obscured the fact that conversations about the proposed development continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign.

The felony charge Cohen pleaded guilty to Thursday was the first brought against Cohen by special counsel Robert Mueller. While Trump was not directly accused of any wrongdoing, the charge brings the president closer to an effort to obstruct probes into alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight other felony counts brought by federal prosecutors in New York, including charges that he violated campaign finance laws by agreeing with Trump during the campaign to make hush money payments to women claiming to have had sexual encounters with Trump.

In the new criminal charge unveiled Thursday, Cohen admitted that while he told the House and Senate Intelligence Committees last year that consideration of the proposed Moscow “Trump Tower” project ceased by January 2016 — around the time of the Iowa caucuses in the presidential race — the business proposal remained under discussion through “as late as approximately June 2016.”

If the Moscow project in fact remained live through June 2016, it could have been a significant factor in the decision by various Trump aides and family members to attend a June 7, 2016 “Trump Tower” meeting with individuals with close ties to the Russian government. That session has been a key focus of Mueller’s prosecutors and congressional investigators probing potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow............  (excerpted)


.....Since before taking office and as the Mueller probe has gathered steam in recent months, Trump has regularly downplayed and denied any business links to Moscow.

“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Trump tweeted in January 2017, just days before being sworn in as president.

And speaking to reporters on Air Force One two months ago, Trump emphasized that he was not in contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

“There was no talking to Russia. There was no phone calls. I didn’t make phone calls to Russia. I didn’t receive phone calls. I didn’t have meetings. I didn’t have texts. I didn’t have anything. I’ve nothing to do with Russia. Nothing to do with Russia,” Trump said."........(excerpted)


Read the full article at: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/29/michael-cohen-plea-deal-mueller-1027408




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