New Michael Cohen Plea Draws Mueller Probe Ever Closer To Trump

Donald Trump Tevfik Arif Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party in New York

He even discussed with then-candidate Trump the possibility of Trump traveling to Russian Federation while the 2016 campaign was underway, prosecutors say.

The scandal-ridden lawyer, who in the past described himself as Mr Trump's "fixer", submitted a written statement to Congress in 2017 saying all efforts relating to the real estate project in Moscow had ceased by January 2016.

In 2015, BuzzFeed News reported in May, Cohen met with sometimes Trump adviser Felix Sater about the possibility of licensing the Trump name for a massive tower in Moscow, potentially the tallest building in Europe.

"In fact, I took steps to and had discussions with Individual 1 about travel to Russian Federation", he said, referring to Trump.

"There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it", Trump said Thursday of the Trump Tower Moscow project.

The deal has been a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation. A meeting with Chinese President Xi is also on the agenda and Trump said he is "very close" to striking a new deal, but also that he likes the "current deal".

Cohen said in 2017 that he discussed the deal with Trump three times during the campaign, though the project was abandoned in January 2016.

But the most recent news from the investigation suggests that Mueller, a cagey former FBI director, is holding back and could have more shocks in store for the United States leader as he nears the conclusion of the 18-month-old investigation.

The charges against Cohen were brought by special counsel's office, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with Trump associates.

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Cohen also worked with the office of Dmitry Peskov, President Putin's spokesman and top deputy, to try to hammer out the details of the project. The first hint that there might be more to the story came in September, when a report revealed Cohen was in talks with Mueller.

Reacting to the plea, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Cohen "should be prosecuted to the extent of the law".

"Because a long time ago he did me a favor", Trump responded.

Mr Cohen has previously said he would "take a bullet" for the President.

Quigley, a member of the panel told the Sun-Times in a statement, "Cohen's plea highlights what we've known on the House Intelligence Committee for quite some time: several of our witnesses were untruthful in their testimonies".

What did President Trump say?

The nine-page charging document for Cohen traces the behind-the-scenes communication about the project that nearly became reality in October 2015 when an obscure Russian real estate developer signed a letter of intent sent by Cohen for a 15-floor hotel, condominium and retail complex in Moscow.

Trump said on Wednesday he had not ruled out granting a pardon to Manafort, who has pleaded guilty in Mueller's investigation to a range of federal charges from money laundering to unregistered lobbying. What the lies were about remains a mystery, but it could underscore what most observers believe: that Mueller has far more evidence than his targets know. But both Mueller's and Manafort's legal teams requested in their Monday court filing that a judge move forward without delay in scheduling a sentencing hearing, making it unclear whether the February sentencing date could be moved up.

Mr Trump has called it a witch hunt.