Michael Cohen's lawyer said the White House knew he'd lie to Congress about the Trump Tower-Moscow project and 'did not tell him not to'

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen, former personal attorney to Donald Trump, leaves federal court in November 2018 after pleading guilty to making false statements to Congress.
  • Michael Cohen’s lawyer on Wednesday said the White House knew his client planned to lie to Congress but did nothing to stop him.
  • In late November, Cohen said he’d misled Congress about the timeline of discussions on the ultimately failed real estate deal, stating the talks lasted well into the 2016 campaign season.
  • In a sentencing memo released by Mueller last Friday, the special counsel outlined the nature of Cohen’s cooperation and witness testimony.
  • The memo stated Cohen “described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements contained within it.”

Michael Cohen’s lawyer on Wednesday said the White House knew his client planned to lie to Congress but did nothing to stop him.

“Mr. Trump and the White House knew that Michael Cohen would be testifying falsely to Congress and did not tell him not to,” Lanny Davis told Bloomberg.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday in relation to nine crimes he’s pleaded guilty to, including lying to Congress about his involvement in a plan to build Trump Tower in Moscow.

In late November, Cohen said he’d misled Congress about the timeline of discussions on the ultimately failed real estate deal, stating the talks lasted well into the 2016 campaign season. This came after he’d entered a new plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s investigating Russian election interference and the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion.

The president’s former personal lawyer and fixer originally told Congress the discussions on the Moscow real estate plan concluded in January 2016. But the discussions actually lasted until June 2016 and Cohen “admitted he told these lies – which he made publicly and in submissions to Congress – in order to minimise links between the Moscow Project” and Trump, prosecutors say.

In a sentencing memo released by Mueller last Friday, the special counsel outlined the nature of Cohen’s cooperation and witness testimony.


Read more: Everything Michael Cohen told Mueller about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, according to the memo that could land Cohen a ‘substantial’ prison sentence

The memo stated Cohen “described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements contained within it.” It also said “Cohen provided relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017-2018 time period.” This does not directly state Cohen discussed his plan to lie to Congress with the White House, but it is relevant to Davis’ claims.

Davis on Wednesday also said Cohen would “state publicly all he knows” about Trump once Mueller has completed his investigation, which could include testifying before Congress.

Cohen in August pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York to eight federal crimes, including tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.


Read more: Michael Cohen says he felt it was his ‘duty’ to ‘cover up’ Trump’s ‘dirty deeds,’ is sentenced to 3 years in prison

The campaign finance violations were related to hush money payments Cohen made to two women then-candidate Trump allegedly had affairs with. Cohen said he was directed to make the payments by Trump and they were intended to influence the election. Federal prosecutors have endorsed that claim, and in a recent filing stated Cohen made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump.

Trump has dismissed the payments as a “simple private transaction” and maintains his innocence. The president, who once had a close relationship with Cohen, has called his former personal attorney a liar and a “weak person.”

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