A devastating article from Buzzfeed was released yesterday about Trump’s dealings with Russia and Vladimir Putin. In the article, two unnamed federal agents directly involved in the investigation have declared that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, had been directed to lie to Congress about a series of meetings that took place between him and officials connected to the Kremlin about the Moscow tower development deal during the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump has vehemently denied that he had any dealings in Russia during the campaign and Cohen had said that the negotiations over the tower projected ended months before they actually did.
From the Buzzfeed article:
Cohen also declined comment — but the law enforcement sources familiar with his testimony to the special counsel said he had confirmed that Trump directed him to lie to Congress, and also that he had provided details of his conversations about the project with the president and Ivanka and Donald Jr.
Those three members of the Trump family have distanced themselves from the Moscow project, saying that they had little knowledge of the negotiations. But a picture of their deep involvement is now emerging, as FBI agents and prosecutors pore over witness interviews and internal documents from Cohen and other Trump Organization officials and executives.
Trump was even made aware that Cohen was speaking to Russian government officials about the deal. The lawyer at one point spoke to a Kremlin aide as he sought support for the tower.
Trump also encouraged Cohen to plan a trip to Russia during the campaign, where the candidate could meet face-to-face with Putin.
BuzzFeed News has previously reported that text messages and emails show Sater — a real estate developer, convicted stock swindler, and longtime asset for US government intelligence agencies — worked furiously to arrange a trip for Cohen to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where he was supposed to meet with top Russian bankers and government officials. Cohen told Sater that to advance the deal, Trump himself would also go to Russia, after the Republican National Convention in July 2016.
Trump’s attorney Rudolph Giuliani has issued a denial of Cohen’s statement. “Any suggestion — from any source — that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false,” Giuliani said in a statement. “Today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence.”
Trump tweeted this response to the article:
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars....” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
At the Washington Post, the Democrat response has been aggressive:
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his panel would “get to the bottom” of the allegations in a Thursday night report from BuzzFeed Newsthat have caused an uproar among congressional Democrats.
“We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction,” Nadler said in a tweet. “Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.”
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also said that his panel would do “what’s necessary to find out if it’s true” that Trump had directed Cohen, a longtime loyalist and fixer, to lie to Congress about plans for a massive Trump Tower in Moscow.
This could be a major moment for the Trump investigation. We will report more details as the story develops.