Cohen said he briefed Trump children on Moscow project

Cohen said he briefed Trump children on Moscow project
© Greg Nash

President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen told Congress Wednesday that he briefed Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDemocrats introduce bill to block taxpayer-funded spending at Trump properties Trump dismisses NYT explanation on Kavanaugh correction The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump awards Yankees legend Mariano Rivera the Medal of Freedom The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico 2020 is not a family affair, for a change MORE on plans to build a Trump property in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.

Cohen said that he briefed President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE's family on "approximately 10" occasions about the project, which never came to fruition. 

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In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the property plans within the Trump Organization, acknowledging that the talks extended into June 2016 — six months later than he originally claimed. 

Cohen told the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday that Trump did not direct him to lie to Congress about the plans but that he did so to protect the president. 

Court filings unsealed in November showed that Cohen lied to the House and Senate intelligence committees in 2017 about the length and extent of the Trump Tower discussions within the Trump Organization. He briefed Trump more than three times on the project and also briefed members of Trump’s family, though they were not specifically named.

At the time, prosecutors said Cohen lied in order to “minimize links” between Trump and the project and give the false impression that the discussions ended before the January 2016 Iowa caucus.

Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, acknowledged in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in fall 2017 that the proposal was discussed in 2015 and 2016 but said he was only “peripherally aware” of it.

In his opening remarks Wednesday, Cohen said there were “at least a half-dozen times” between the Iowa caucuses and the following June when he offered Trump updates on the project at the then-candidate’s request.

“He would ask me ‘How’s it going in Russia?’ — referring to the Moscow Tower project,” Cohen said.

The former Trump attorney also said that the president’s personal lawyers “reviewed and edited” his statement to Congress about the timing of the discussions before he delivered it.

“To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project,” Cohen said.

“And so I lied about it, too — because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie,” he said.

The property discussions have been scrutinized by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE.

While the Moscow proposal did not come to fruition, the discussions about it occurred at a point during the presidential campaign when Trump was making positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin and building better ties with Russia.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has offered varying explanations of Trump’s knowledge of the real estate proposal, but has said that Trump’s answers to Mueller’s questions on the subject acknowledge that the discussions may have occurred as late as November 2016.

Trump has insisted that nothing about the business discussions was improper.