President Trump is pulling no punches regarding his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Following Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday where he admitted to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, the president blasted his former attorney as a “weak man” who’s lying to get a reduced prison sentence.
“He is a weak person … Michael Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me,” President Trump said.
“When I’m running for president that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business,” the president said.
Cohen testified before a federal judge in New York on Thursday morning that he lied regarding details about a real-estate project President Trump had going in Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Guardian reports:
[Cohen] said on Thursday that Trump continued trying to develop a tower in Russia months into his campaign for the US presidency.
Cohen made the explosive allegation, which directly contradicts previous statements by him and Trump, while pleading guilty to lying to Congress in a deliberate attempt to hinder the Trump-Russia investigation.
Cohen said that efforts to construct a Trump property in Moscow, the Russian capital, actually continued until June 2016 – several months more than he has said previously. By that time, Trump was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
In August last year, Cohen told congressional investigators in a statement that in January 2016 it was decided the Moscow development ‘was not feasible for a variety of business reasons and should not be pursued further.’
For all that Cohen has alleged, President Trump says the former attorney is simply lying in order for Mueller to cut him a deal.
“That was a project that wasn’t done for a lot of reasons. Number one is that I was focused on running for president,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “I wanted that to be my primary focus, not running or building a building.”
President Trump noted that the “deal” he had with the Russians regarding the Moscow project was a deal that “didn’t happen.”
“This is a deal that didn’t happen. That was no deal,” Trump said. “It was an option that I decided not to do. We had a position to possibly do a deal, to have a building of some kind in Moscow. I decided not to do it. The primary reason is very simple: I was focused on running for President. There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business.”
President Trump said that Cohen was lying, but even if he was telling the truth, it wouldn’t matter, because he had every right to run his business during the campaign.
Cohen’s guilty plea comes at the same time that the lawyer for Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has entered into talks with the president’s legal team informing them about the pressure that Special Counsel Robert Mueller placed on him to incriminate Trump.