UPDATED with President Donald Trump canceling G20 meeting with Vladimir Putin: Michael Cohen is a liar Trump told reporters on the White House lawn a couple hours after his longtime personal attorney pleaded guilty to giving false information to Congress about Trump’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
“What he is trying to do, because he is a weak person, he’s got himself a big prison sentence and he’s trying to get a lesser prison sentence by making up a story,”Trump scoffed on the White House lawn, as he prepared to go to the G20 summit in Argentina, where he was scheduled to meet with Russian ruler Vladimir Putin.
“I decided not to do” the project,” Trump insisted, saying, “The primary reason: I was focused on running for President.” But he added, “There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance I would not have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business,” asking rhetorically why he should have been penalized financially while campaigning.
“There was nothing wrong if I did do it,” Trump said of Cohen’s new claims he kept Trump apprised of Trump Tower Moscow talks into summer of ’16. Simultaneously, Trump insisted Cohen “is lying to get a reduced sentence, okay?”
After ending the presser and leaving for Argentina, Trump tweeted he’d pulled the plug on his Putin meeting, citing recent Russian aggression against Ukraine:
Hours earlier, Trump’s former attorney put in a surprise appearance at federal court in lower Manhattan to plead guilty to misleading Congress about his contacts with Russia, sending TV news outlets scrambling.
“I made these statements to be consistent with Individual 1’s [Trump] political message… and to be loyal to Individual 1,” Trump’s personal attorney for more than a decade said in court today, according to various media outlets.
Cohen now says he had discussions with Trump about the real estate developer’s effort to build Trump Tower Moscow into summer of 2016 – by which time Trump was presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States.
Cohen previously testified before Congress that Moscow deal talks fizzled in January of 2016, before Trump was presumptive nominee.
In this morning’s blockbuster move, Cohen also said he had communicated with Putin’s office about the Trump real estate project, after previously insisting he had not.
Cohen previously had said Trump was not was never briefed when deal fell apart in January ’16. Today in court, Cohen acknowledged he kept Trump apprised of the Trump Tower Moscow project well beyond January ’16, during which time Trump said he had no financial relationship with Russia. As Trump made those publish statements, he was arguing the U.S. should be less hostile in its relations with Russia.
CNN legal pundit Jeffrey Toobin was among those noting on air this morning it is no coincidence Cohen made this move after Trump had submitted his written answers under oath to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s questions in Mueller’s probe of Russian election tampering.