President Trump personally directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the extent of his negotiations to build Trump Tower Moscow, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday, a revelation that could put Trump in serious legal jeopardy for obstruction of justice. BuzzFeed spoke to two federal law enforcement officials with knowledge of the Mueller investigation that said Cohen told the special counsel that, after the election, Trump instructed Cohen to lie to in his testimony before Congress about how long the tower project negotiations went on, which Cohen did, in order to minimize the links between the development project and the president.
Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen. And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
More worrying for Trump is that, according to BuzzFeed, the instruction to lie was not just recounted by Cohen, but by multiple witnesses in the Trump Organization, and confirmed by a cache of other supporting documents, including internal company emails and text messages. “Attorneys close to the administration helped Cohen prepare his testimony and draft his statement to the Senate panel,” the sources told BuzzFeed. “The sources did not say who the attorneys were or whether they were part of the White House counsel’s staff, and did not present evidence that the lawyers knew the statements would be false.”