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 TrumpRNC bought nearly 0,000 worth of copies of Trump Jr.'s new book: report Swalwell on flatulence allegation: Total exoneration Conway and Haley get into heated feud: 'You'll say anything to get the vice-presidential nomination' MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Trump says he's 'looking at' Apple tariff exemption during tour of Texas plant Trump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report MORE on plans to build a Trump property in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.

Cohen said that he briefed President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates 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 MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump 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.