- President Donald Trump on Friday said his exploration during the 2016 campaign of building a Trump Tower in Moscow was “very legal.”
- His statement came one day after his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen admitted to lying about the project.
- Cohen’s guilty plea indicated Trump was not being truthful when he denied having financial interests in Russia ahead of the 2016 election.
- Cohen is expected to give dozens of hours of testimony, which could severely damage Trump.
President Donald Trump has defended having what he called “very legal” conversations about building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign, a day after his longtime fixer Michael Cohen admitted to lying about the project.
“Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail.
“Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!”
Cohen, who served as Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described fixer, on Thursday pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about the Trump Organisation’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The company ultimately did not go ahead with the project.
Prosecutors said Cohen knowingly misled congressional investigators when he said negotiations for the deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organisation executives.
Cohen’s guilty plea indicated that Trump was not being truthful when he denied having any financial interests in Russia during the campaign, according to reporting by Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth.
It also adds context to other meetings and financial dealings between Trump campaign associates and Russian nationals during the 2016 election.
Cohen is expected to give dozens of hours of testimony that could severely damage Trump. The president called his former lawyer a liar and a “weak person” after the announcement of the plea deal:
— ABC News (@ABC) November 29, 2018
Two law-enforcement officials also said Cohen discussed the idea with a spokesman for Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, BuzzFeed News reported.
The Trump Organisation also reportedly wanted to give Putin the penthouse in the building.
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