Trump's ex-lawyer admits lies about Russian real estate deal

Does Manafort have any credibility left? | LRC Presents: All the President's Lawyers

Does Manafort have any credibility left? | LRC Presents: All the President's Lawyers

Michael Cohen's guilty plea Thursday for lying to Congress over Russian Federation business deals opens the door for House Democrats to go back and look at other allies of President Trump and whether they, too, lied, a key lawmaker said.

The 52-year-old, for years one of the Republican billionaire's closest aides, left court in NY, ignoring questions from reporters and got wordlessly into the back of a vehicle before being driven away. Instead, he was represented by attorneys Guy Petrillo and Amy Lusker.

The number of guilty pleas in Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation are piling up as the special counsel forges ahead. He's slated to be sentenced in two weeks on other charges.

After entering his plea, Cohen addressed the court for several minutes. Democrats have said they will release the transcripts publicly when they assume control of the committee in January.

Cohen has been co-operating with Mr Mueller's probe.

"I made this statement to keep up with the political messaging and out of loyalty", Cohen said Thursday.

Cohen admitted to making "false, fictitious and fraudulent" written testimony to Congress in August 2017 in connection with the project.

"That description was false".

Contrary to his statements, the project was discussed multiple times within the company - beyond January 2016 - and with efforts to obtain Russian governmental approval being discussed as late as June of that year.

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Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress past year when he said those discussions had ended in January of 2016 and that his overtures to the Russian government went unrequited.

Not only did Cohen brief Individual 1 on his discussions with Kremlin officials, they even discussed taking a trip.

Trump said his pledge not to conclude new deals only applied after he had been elected and inaugurated.

"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.

"Individual 1" is, as the document points out, who Cohen worked for at a Manhattan-based real estate company.

Cohen made a surprise court appearance Thursday in NY.

Mr Cohen once famously vowed he would take a bullet for Mr Trump, but speculation mounted over the pugnacious attorney's loyalties after his home and office were raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in April this year.

Mr Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight criminal charges including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

In doing so, he said that Trump told him to arrange payments, before the 2016 election, to buy the silence of adult film actress Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model who allege they had affairs with Trump. The 52-year-old had always been one of Trump's most loyal and ardent aides, and once claimed he'd "take a bullet" for the president. However, as part of his plea deal, Cohen agreed not to challenge any sentence between 46 and 63 months. In exchange for pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Mueller, he may hope to receive a lighter sentence than he otherwise would.

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