Trump defends potential 2016 Russia deal: Business was ‘very legal & very cool’

President Trump on Friday defended his pursuit of a business deal in Russia, calling his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow “very legal & very cool.”

In a tweet just before beginning his day at the Group of 20 summit, Trump repeated his claims that he did nothing illegal in his efforts in Russia after the business dealings came under scrutiny Thursday when the president’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about the matter.

{mosads}“Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly),” the president tweeted from Buenos Aires. “Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail.”

“Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!” he wrote in a second tweet.

Cohen’s appearance in court on Thursday was an unwelcome surprise for Trump as he prepared for the international stage at the G-20 summit. The president is set to hold a closely watched meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but Trump canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cohen, who has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, said he made two misstatements while testifying before two congressional intelligence committees in 2017.

He said he lied about Trump’s Moscow property plans, including his plans to travel to Russia, contacts with Russian officials in connection with the project and how long the property plans were discussed within the Trump Organization, according to court documents.

Cohen reportedly discussed the idea of a Trump Tower Moscow with Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov, two U.S. law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed on Thursday.

The Trump Organization reportedly planned to give a $50 million penthouse in the planned tower to Putin while the company was in negotiations in 2016.

Trump defended his Moscow project to reporters on Thursday.

“There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won [the presidential election], in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?” he said.

He also ripped Cohen, saying he was lying as part of a plea deal to escape a longer prison sentence.

Cohen has reportedly spent more than 70 hours in interviews with officials from Mueller’s office as they investigate Russian interference in the election and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Tags Cohen plea Donald Trump Moscow Robert Mueller Russia Investigation Special counsel The Trump Organization Trump Tower

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