A groundbreaking report in BuzzFeed News alleges that President Trump personally directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress — a federal crime.
Federal law enforcement agents reportedly close to the investigation told BuzzFeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress in order to obfuscate the candidate’s involvement in negotiating the construction of a Trump Tower hotel in Moscow.
Trump is also accused of telling his confidant to arrange a meeting in Russia with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the real estate project, and allegedly received multiple updates from Cohen on the progression of the project.
While Cohen is expected to report to federal prison next month for a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to multiple felony counts in 2018, this report marks the first time Trump told a person directly reporting to him to lie about his involvement with the Putin regime.
Michael Cohen’s lie to Congress was specifically about the timeline in which negotiations sputtered. While Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer told members of Congress that talks of a Trump Tower Moscow stalled in January of 2016, negotiations in fact continued until June of 2016. By then, Trump had all but won the Republican presidential primary, having far more delegates than his closest competition.
Completion of the project apparently hinged on a meeting between Trump, Cohen, Putin, and real estate developer Felix Sater (also a convicted felon with connections to organized crime). However, the meeting never happened, as Trump secured the nomination and eventually won the 2016 presidential election. However, as president, Trump has met with Putin on five separate occasions. As the New York Times reported earlier this week, the details of each of those meetings are still unknown, stoking widespread speculation.
Cohen is due to testify to Congress in an open session next month. However, that testimony may not happen due to alleged intimidation from President Trump, according to Reuters.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.