President Trump did not mince words on Thursday criticizing his former lawyer Michael Cohen after Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress about his and Trump’s contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“He’s a weak person and not a very smart person,” Trump said of his long-time personal fixer. “He’s lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence.”
Cohen pled guilty on Thursday to misleading Congress about his discussions of a proposed Trump Tower hotel in Moscow with Trump. He originally told Congress that negotiations around the project had ended in January 2016, before the presidential primaries, but admitted on Thursday that the talks went on until at least June of that year. He also said he and Trump had discussed a plan to have him travel to Russia to negotiate the project, contradicting his earlier statements to congressional investigators.
“I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s [President Trump’s] political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1,” Cohen told the federal court in Manhattan where he entered his plea.
“In truth and in fact, and as Cohen well knew, Cohen’s representations about the Moscow Project he made to [House and Senate intelligence committees] were false and misleading,” read a court filing by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. “Cohen made the false statements to . . . give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus and . . . the very first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”
“He’s lying about a project that everybody knew about,” Trump told reporters. “I mean we were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building. . . . Everybody knew about it. It was written about in newspapers. It was a well-known project. It was during the early part of ’16 and I guess even before that. It lasted a short period of time. I didn’t do the project. I decided not to do the project.”
“There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it,” Trump added. “This was my business.”
Cohen pled guilty in August to eight charges, including bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign-finance violations, related to hush-money payments made to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. He will be sentenced within the next two weeks.
“It’s very simple: He’s got himself a big prison sentence, and he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up this story,” Trump said.