Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow, prompting the president to lash out at Cohen as a liar and “weak person.”
The unexpected plea stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s intensifying investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow to boost his chances, and put new pressure on the president.
Michael Cohen, a former member of Trump’s inner circle who in the past called himself the president’s “fixer,” described efforts to pursue Trump’s ambitious Moscow real estate project deep into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, later than previously disclosed.
He entered his guilty plea in federal court in Manhattan to one count of making false statements to two congressional panels about the project. According to a court document, Cohen briefed Trump on the project more than three times, as well as members of his family.
Not long after Cohen entered his plea, Trump abruptly canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled to take place during this week’s Group of 20 industrialized nations summit in Argentina, citing the current Ukraine crisis.
Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty in August to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, in a separate case brought by federal prosecutors in New York. His sentencing in that case is scheduled for Dec. 12.