Michael Cohen: Trump’s lawyer advised me to lie about Moscow tower project

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty last year and is serving a three-year prison sentence.

Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told Congress it was Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, who suggested he tell lawmakers that the negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow ended in January 2016, even though they continued for months after that.

The House intelligence committee on Monday released two transcripts of closed-door interviews with Cohen from earlier this year, along with some exhibits from the testimony. Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence, pleaded guilty last year and admitted that he misled Congress by saying he had abandoned the Trump Tower Moscow project months earlier than he actually did.

During the interviews, legislators repeatedly pressed Cohen for details on his false statement to Congress and tried to nail down whether he was directly told by Trump’s legal team to mislead the committee, but the transcripts provide no slam-dunk evidence.

Cohen offered no direct evidence that Sekulow knew the January 2016 date we false, but Cohen claims Sekulow should have known because he had access to relevant emails and other communications as part of an agreement between defense attorneys to share documents.

Attorneys for Sekulow said Cohen’s testimony was not credible.

“Michael Cohen’s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen’s ‘instinct to blame others is strong’,” Sekulow’s lawyers, Jane Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge, said in a statement.

Cohen said Trump also knew the negotiations had continued far beyond January 2016 and that Sekulow had seen his testimony in advance of submission. He also claimed that Sekulow edited the statement and that both Sekulow and Trump approved it. Cohen also provided documents to the intelligence panel that showed the editing process for the statement.

When asked whether Trump had read his “false written testimony”, Cohen replied: “Mr Sekulow said that he spoke to the client and that, you know, the client likes it and that it’s good.”

In addition to the questioning about his false testimony, much of the discussion during Cohen’s interviews related to pardons and whether Trump or his lawyers were dangling them in front of Cohen as the government began to investigate him.

Attorneys for Sekulow said Cohen’s testimony was not credible.

“Michael Cohen’s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen’s ‘instinct to blame others is strong’,” Sekulow’s lawyers, Jane Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge, said in a statement.

Cohen said Trump also knew the negotiations had continued far beyond January 2016 and that Sekulow had seen his testimony in advance of submission. He also claimed that Sekulow edited the statement and that both Sekulow and Trump approved it. Cohen also provided documents to the intelligence panel that showed the editing process for the statement.

When asked whether Trump had read his “false written testimony”, Cohen replied: “Mr Sekulow said that he spoke to the client and that, you know, the client likes it and that it’s good.”

In addition to the questioning about his false testimony, much of the discussion during Cohen’s interviews related to pardons and whether Trump or his lawyers were dangling them in front of Cohen as the government began to investigate him.

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