Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen

"It's no surprise that Cohen lied to Congress".

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he made false statements to Congress about his role in Donald Trump's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, referred to in court documents as the "Moscow Project".

On Thursday, the president branded Cohen a "weak person" and emphasized that the property deal was ultimately dropped.

In Washington, Democratic lawmakers pounced on Cohen's latest plea to call for the Mueller probe to be allowed run its course unimpeded. "With each indictment and each guilty plea, we learn more about the president's connections to Russian Federation in the midst of Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election", said Virginia Sen.

"These developments make clear that my colleagues and I must step in and provide accountability", said Nadler (D-NY).

President Donald Trump's intensifying attacks this week against the Russian Federation collusion investigation underscore a growing nervousness over how much evidence investigators may have accumulated on the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Moscow.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Cohen wasn't truthful about the timeline of Trump's consideration of building one of his namesake towers in Moscow, previously claiming talks ended in January 2016.

The Cohen revelation comes as Mueller's investigation is showing fresh signs of aggressive activity.

He said the primary reason he didn't pursue it was "I was focused on running for president".

Asked why he worked with Cohen for so long, Trump said, "Because a long time ago he did me a favor".

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Cohen also "agreed to travel to Russian Federation in connection with the Moscow Project and took steps in contemplation of Individual l ' s possible travel to Russian Federation".

Trump said his pledge not to conclude new deals only applied after he had been elected and inaugurated.

"Michael Cohen is lying and he's trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me", the president said.

Asked by reporters if she was concerned about Mr Cohen's plea, top House of Representatives Democrat Nancy Pelosi said, "Of course, he lied to the American people".

Robert Mueller is evidently digging into the Trump Tower deal in Moscow.

"In truth and in fact, and as Cohen well knew, Cohen's representations about the Moscow Project he made to [Congress] were false and misleading", prosecutors said in the nine-page document. But both Mueller's and Manafort's legal teams requested in their Monday court filing that a judge move forward without delay in scheduling a sentencing hearing, making it unclear whether the February sentencing date could be moved up. He told the court he had arranged those payments, created to keep the women quiet before the presidential vote, at Trump's direction.

In August Cohen, who had been Mr Trump's personal lawyer for more than a decade, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

On Jan. 14, 2016, just weeks before the Republican party caucus in Iowa, Cohen emailed the office of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asking for help getting the Trump Tower Moscow project off the ground.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, of NY, left, now the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks as Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, center, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on May 24.

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