President Donald Trump’s alleged involvement in a proposed deal to build one of his eponymous skyscrapers in Moscow reportedly goes deeper than Trump previously acknowledged, a report from BuzzFeed News indicates.
Trump is said to have personally directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the negotiations on the deal, according to two unnamed law-enforcement sources cited in BuzzFeed’s report.
Cohen initially told congressional committees investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian operatives that the Trump Tower Moscow talks had ended in January 2016. He later admitted in a plea deal with the special counsel Robert Mueller those talks continued through June of that year.
Cohen is said to have had “at least 10 face-to-face meetings” with Trump about the Moscow deal, which Trump believed could bring his company more than $300 million in profit, BuzzFeed reported.
Additionally, Cohen told Mueller that after Trump won the 2016 election, he instructed him to lie about when the talks over that Moscow deal ended, “in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.”
The special counsel learned of Trump’s alleged involvement through Cohen’s testimony and via “multiple witnesses,” along with documents, internal emails, and text messages from members of the Trump Organization, BuzzFeed reported.
The accusation that Trump personally instructed his then-attorney to lie to Congress, if true, could put the president in significant legal jeopardy, as such a claim could amount to obstruction of justice, a handful of Democratic lawmakers posited on social media Thursday night.
“This stunning Trump Tower Moscow story establishes a clear case of Obstruction of Justice, a felony,” Rep. Ted Lieu of California wrote.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline said: “If the President directed Cohen to lie to Congress, that is obstruction of justice. Period. Full stop.”
The obstruction of justice matter is one of several threads Mueller is examining as part of his team’s Russia probe.
In a texted statement to The Daily Beast, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in response to the BuzzFeed report, “Haven’t checked it out but if you believe Cohen I can get you a good all cash deal on the Brooklyn Bridge?”
Cohen is expected to testify publicly to the House Intelligence Committee on February 7, however a new report from Reuters published Thursday night indicated he was having second thoughts.
Lanny Davis, an attorney who has been advising Cohen on his media strategy, told MSNBC some remarks Trump has made about Cohen amounted to witness tampering and deserved to be criminally investigated, Reuters reported.
“There is genuine fear and it has caused Michael Cohen to consider whether he should go forward or not, and he has not made a final decision,” Davis said.