Trump blasts Cohen as ‘weak person’ for guilty plea

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE on Thursday blasted his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as a “weak person” for pleading guilty to lying to Congress in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s Russia probe.

Trump accused Cohen of “lying” to prosecutors in order to get a lesser sentence shortly after the former confidant made a surprise appearance in a New York federal court to enter the plea.

“He's a weak person and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a summit in Argentina. ”So, he's lying about a project that everybody knew about.”

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Cohen, who served for years as Trump’s self-described fixer, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress related to his testimony about communications with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen said he was untruthful about his involvement in plans to build a Trump property in Russia in order to remain loyal to the president and consistent with his “political message.”

The former Trump Organization official previously told Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, but emails showed that he continued to talk with a Russian developer about the project into the summer of 2016 and kept Trump informed of the talks. 

While Trump accused Cohen of lying about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the president defended his pursuit of the deal. 

“Even if he was right, it doesn't matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business,” he said. 

But at the same time, Trump downplayed the significance of the incident because he “decided not to do the project.”

Cohen's plea is significant because it deepens his cooperation with Mueller's probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign and suggests the Trump Organization was more involved with Moscow than previously believed. 

Before taking office in January 2017, Trump insisted he had no business relationships with Russia. 

“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!,” he tweeted.

As he exited a New York courthouse on Thursday morning, Cohen remained quiet while his lawyer issued a brief comment to reporters.

“Mr. Cohen has cooperated. Mr. Cohen will continue to cooperate,” the attorney said.

Sentencing for Cohen is set for Dec. 12, according to the attorney.

Trump has recently appeared irritated over the Mueller probe, something legal experts speculate is because it appears to be moving closer to his inner circle. 

The president published a string of tweets on Thursday morning before Cohen's plea blasting the investigation as a “total disgrace” that “has shattered so many innocent lives.”

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, is the latest former associate of the president to reach a plea deal with Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The president earlier this year offered a similar condemnation of Cohen after his former attorney pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance and bank fraud laws at Trump's direction.

The charges stemmed from a $130,000 nondisclosure payment he gave to Stormy Daniels to silence the adult-film star, who claims to have had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago.

Trump has since claimed that Cohen was lying about the case in order to get a deal from prosecutors.

Asked Thursday why he would employ a liar as his attorney for years, Trump responded “because a long time ago, he did me a favor” but did not elaborate. 

The president this week lauded his former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller probe has cost more than M so far Prosecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times Swalwell says Butina guilty plea shows 'influx of Russians' into US ‘political bloodstream’ MORE as “brave” and refused to rule out a presidential pardon after it was revealed Mueller planned to scrap a cooperation agreement with Manafort for allegedly lying to investigators.

—Last updated at 11:50 a.m.