Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress

US President Donald Trump says the Russia collusion probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is an

President Donald Trump says his former lawyer Michael Cohen is a "weak person" who is "lying" to get a reduced sentence.

At issue is a proposal to build a skyscraper bearing Trump's name in Moscow.

Cohen said in 2017 that he discussed the deal with Trump three times during the campaign, though the project was abandoned in January 2016.

"He's a weak person and not a very smart person", Trump told reporters of Cohen.

Trump last week provided written answers to about two dozen questions posed by Mueller about his own actions and recollections of the campaign as he transformed from his life as a NY real estate mogul to that of a first-time candidate for public office.

"Now here's the thing". I wanted that to be my primary focus. Cohen used to describe himself as Trump's pit bull and delighted in jousting with the celebrity businessman's enemies, once asserting that he would "take a bullet" for his longtime boss.

Trump said he ultimately decided not to pursue a real estate project in Russian Federation, but it isn't clear precisely how discussions ended over the notional Trump Tower in Moscow.

Among other lies, Cohen said he told Congress that all discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow had ended by January 2016, when they had actually continued until June of that year.

Cohen admitted to making "false, fictitious and fraudulent" written testimony to Congress in August 2017 in connection with the project.

Michael Cohen President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer admitted Thursday to lying to Congress about contacts he had with Russia during the 2016 election campaign
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's lawyer, expected to plead guilty to making false statements to Congress

The nine-page charging document for Cohen traces the behind-the-scenes communication about the project that nearly became reality in October 2015 when an obscure Russian real estate developer signed a letter of intent sent by Cohen for a 15-floor hotel, condominium and retail complex in Moscow.

Cohen became the fifth Trump associate charged in the Russian Federation investigation, joining former national security adviser Michael Flynn, senior campaign officials Paul Manafort and Ricks Gates as well as campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. He previously identified individual 1 as Trump. "Mr Cohen will continue to co-operate". The charges included those related to payments that Cohen made as a hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claim to have had sexual relations with Trump.

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.

The Mueller investigation has cast a cloud over Trump's presidency.

"When will this illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt, one that has shattered so many innocent lives, ever end-or will it just go on forever?" he tweeted.

Cohen admitted lying about the timing of the negotiations, his communications with people in Trump's company and in Russian Federation about the deal, and other details to be loyal to Trump and consistent with Trump's "political messaging".

Giuliani says the documents special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL'-ur) used to discover Cohen's false statements came from the Trump Organization.

Cohen's lawyer told the judge the plea deal involved cooperation with Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the USA election.

That same month, members of Trump's campaign committee held a now-infamous meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who they were told would deliver "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

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