In the latest plot twist in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, former Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, appeared before a Manhattan court and plead guilty to lying to Congress.
The lawyer participated in a closed-door testimony before Congress last year where he reportedly made false statements about a Trump Tower project in Moscow that was undertaken in 2015 and 2016, CNBC reports. Cohen allegedly lied about the scope and length of the project, according to NBC New’s Peter Alexander.
In August, Michael Cohen, who was once among the President’s innermost circle as a loyal advisor and trusted fixer, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts relating to tax fraud, illegal campaign contributions, and lying to a financial institution. These charges were not brought against Cohen by the Mueller probe.
Since then, ABC reports, Cohen has spent more than 70 hours conversing with Mueller’s team and answering questions on Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in 2016.
No doubt Cohen possesses a wealth of information that would be of vital interest to Mueller and his team. He worked with Trump as his personal problem solver for over a decade. Sources familiar with the Russia investigation told ABC that Cohen’s cooperation has been crucial for Mueller’s case.
ABC reported that Cohen’s admission to lying to congress and his latest guilty plea were part of an agreement with Mueller. It is thought the misstatements occurred during two meetings with congressional intelligence committees in the fall of 2017.
The plea came just hours after Trump launched into a fresh tirade against the Mueller investigation on Twitter. The President referred to the probe as a “Witch Hunt” and exclaimed, “this total Hoax will be studied for years!”
Cohen will appear in court again on December 12 for sentencing in the New York case involving eight criminal counts. Although this case was not part of Cohen’s plea agreement with Mueller, his recent cooperation on the Russia investigation could result in the government recommending a reduced sentence.
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Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.