Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying about a Russia Trump Tower deal

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Asked Thursday about the plea deal, Trump dismissively said that Cohen "was convicted of various things unrelated to us".

CNN's Poppy Harlow wondered on Thursday if Michael Cohen's new guilty plea to charges of lying to Congress indicates that a cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller is in the works.

US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves the US Courthouse in NY on April 26, 2018.

"He's a weak person and not a very smart person", Mr Trump told reporters of Mr Cohen. He said that he did not end up doing the Trump Tower project, but that he was within his rights to conduct business during the presidential campaign.

Cohen told the court he lied to Congress about Trump's Moscow tower in order to be consistent with his former boss's political positions.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 presidential election by handling hush money for Mr Trump's alleged lovers.

Who to believe is becoming a major element of what we know about special counsel Robert Mueller's methodical Russian Federation investigation, which Trump for months has attacked as a witch hunt out to get him. The negotiations never led to a finalized deal.

Mr Cohen provided false statements to both the Senate and House intelligence committees to create the false impression the Moscow real estate project had ended by the time the political primary season began, the charging document said. Nonetheless, the investigation continues. The plea increased the pressure on Trump during the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia's role in the election.

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"Granting a pardon, if the objective is to affect his testimony in any way, would be a very serious crime on a part of the president", Nadler said.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

It was actually discussed "multiple times" within the Trump Organization, and these discussions carried on into June 2016, less than six months before the election. "In fact, I took steps to and had discussions with Individual 1 about travel to Russian Federation", he told the court, referring to Trump.

"Cohen discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with [Trump] on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed to the Committee, and he briefed family members of [Trump] within the Company about the project", according to the charging document.

That investigation has since expanded into Trump's business dealings about which Cohen would have critical information.

Cohen gave a statement to congressional committees past year saying the president's company pursued a project in Moscow but that the plan was abandoned "for a variety of business reasons".

Trump was emphatic that Cohen was "lying", but it is unclear what he believes Cohen is lying about. "Sentencing is set for December 12", said Guy Petrillo, another of Cohen's lawyers.

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