Trump says pardon for Paul Manafort is 'not off the table'

Arturo Kim
November 30, 2018

According to two congressional sources familiar with the questioning of Trump Organization employees, several people tied to the Trump Organization were asked about the same Moscow project.

That last plan led Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to plead guilty Thursday to a charge brought by the special prosecutor looking into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Cohen's guilty plea on Thursday may signal his hope for a lighter sentence in exchange for continuing his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump colluded with Moscow.

That Mueller used Cohen's false congressional testimony to charge him in federal court serves as a warning to those who have already testified on the Russian Federation probe as well as those who will do so under Democratic control.

The Trump Tower deal - which never got off the ground - has been a focus of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign, The New York Times reported. In May 2016, a month after Trump had emerged the victor of the GOP primaries, Sater - identified as "Individual 2" - told Cohen that Peskov wanted to meet him in mid-June at an worldwide business forum in St. Petersburg and "possibly introduce you" to Putin or Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Cohen on Thursday morning pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his involvement in discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Trump has repeatedly said that he had no business dealings in Russian Federation, tweeting in July 2016, "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia" and telling reporters in January 2017 that he had no deals there because he had "stayed away".

The Mueller investigation has cast a cloud over the current American administration.

"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.

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At issue is a proposal to build a skyscraper bearing Trump's name in Moscow.

Cohen also told lawmakers he had had limited contact with Mr Trump about the project, when in fact it had been "more extensive". Mr Trump said on Twitter, referring to a United States senator who led an anti-communist crusade in the 1950s.

"But zero, I mean I will tell you right now, zero, I have nothing to do with Russian Federation", he said.

The ultimately failed effort to "pursue a branded property in Moscow" was just the latest in decades of efforts by Trump to get into the Moscow real estate business.

I mused that if Robert Mueller found Cohen credible enough to include him in any case he might make, it would be Mr Trump's worst nightmare come true. Sater said he spoke only to Cohen about the project. The president has denied having affairs with the women.

Cohen began talking to investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe has been a thorn in Trump's side, after pleading guilty in August to bank fraud and campaign finance violations in NY.

On June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Manafort and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with a Kremlin connected lawyer at Trump Tower about getting "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, of NY, left, now the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks as Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, center, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on May 24.

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