Michael Cohen has plead guilty in federal court and has admitted that he lied about the extent to which Trump communicated with the Russians during 2016.
Initially, Cohen had claimed that talks about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow ended in January 2016 ahead of the Iowa caucuses; yesterday, Cohen admitted that discussions carried on well past that time.
Cohen has already plead guilty to eight counts in a separate case brought by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office earlier this year.
His admission that talks carried on beyond the Iowa caucuses in 2016 suggests that the president continued to engage in business negotiations with Russian individuals even as the Russian government worked to secure his election.
The president retaliated against his former lawyer in comments made at the White House yesterday before leaving for the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“He’s a weak person. He was convicted with a fairly long-term sentence with things unrelated to the Trump Organization. What he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.” — Trump
The president also cancelled his one-on-one meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin which had been scheduled to take place during the G20 summit.
Trump blamed the cancellation on escalating tensions between Russia and the Ukraine after the Russian navy captured three of the Ukraine’s vessels over the weekend.
“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin.” — Trump
While this may be true, it is notable that he is now distancing himself from Putin just as Cohen begins to cooperate with Mueller in earnest.
All of this comes shortly after former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found to have breached his plea agreement by lying to the FBI and Mueller.
For now, all we know is that Manafort lied “on a variety of subject matters” in violation of his plea agreement and that the special counsel’s office has indicated it will release more details in the future.
With two major players in Trump’s circle both pleading guilty — the filing against Manafort was signed by both the prosecution and the defense — it seems that Mueller is getting closer to pinning things down.
Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story.