Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty To Lying To Congress

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Cohen, "knowingly and deliberately" made "false representations" lawyers for special counsel Robert Mueller told the court in the plea deal. The plea increased the pressure on Trump during the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia's role in the election.

The guilty plea explains that Cohen lied to Congressional committees about the Trump Organization's efforts during the presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen's surprise court appearance marks the latest step in his evolution from trusted Trump consigliere - he said Thursday he had lied out of "loyalty" - to prime antagonist. In Cohen's now-discredited testimony, he told lawmakers that he made the decision to terminate the deal on his own without consulting with Trump or any members of the Trump family.

Cohen did agree to travel to Russian Federation in connection with the Trump Tower Moscow project "and took steps in contemplation of [Trump's] possible travel to Russia", according to court papers.

"He's a weak person and not a very smart person", Mr Trump told reporters of Mr Cohen. "He's got himself a big prison sentence".

US President Donald Trump
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's lawyer, expected to plead guilty to making false statements to Congress

The Trump Tower deal - which never got off the ground - has been a focus of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign, The New York Times reported. "That was no deal". "We could make deals in Russian Federation very easily if we wanted to, I just don't want to because I think that would be a conflict".

Cohen pleaded guilty earlier this year in Manhattan to campaign finance and tax violations, the result of an investigation into Cohen's business dealings that was referred by Mueller's team to federal prosecutors in NY. He previously identified individual 1 as Trump.

Mr Trump said his former right-hand man was "lying" to seek a reduced sentence.

On Thursday, Cohen admitted: "I knew at the time in that I asserted that all efforts had ceased in January 2016, when in fact they continued until June 2016", Cohen said.

Cohen has been under criminal investigation as part of a grand jury probe into his personal business dealings, including his taxi business and bank fraud, since April, when the FBI raided his home, office, and hotel room to seize a collection of documents as part of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York's criminal probe.

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"This is one more example of one of the president's closest allies lying about their ties to Russia and Russians", he said. Trump has long claimed that Manafort had been treated unfairly by the federal investigators.

He implicated the president in his campaign finance violations, telling a NY judge that he committed his crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of a federal candidate for office", a clear reference to Trump.

Adult-film star Stormy Daniels was given $US130,000 ($178,000) and former Playboy model Karen McDougal was paid $US150,000 ($205,385).

In a statement provided to NPR Thursday afternoon, the president's lawyer didn't pull any punches when it came to Cohen.

The Mueller investigation has cast a cloud over the current American administration.

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"You know this flipping stuff is awful", Trump, who has repeatedly called for Mueller's "witch hunt" led by "angry Democrats" to come to an end, told the Post.

"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?"

Michael Cohen walks out of federal court on Thursday in NY.

"Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?" he wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The committee then canceled the meeting with Cohen, upset that his remarks, which reiterated what he had said in his letter to Congress in August, had been leaked to the press.

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