Burr on Cohen guilty plea: ‘You cannot lie to Congress without consequences’

The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman on Thursday described Michael Cohen’s guilty plea as proof that “you cannot lie to Congress without consequences.” 

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-N.C.) also said the panel had reached out to President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE’s former personal lawyer months ago about a return appearance.

Burr made the comments in a brief statement hours after Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s Moscow property plans last year and agreed to cooperate in Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“Michael Cohen’s indictment and guilty plea is once again an example that you cannot lie to Congress without consequences,” Burr said. “It should be no surprise that Mr. Cohen has had in his possession for months a letter requesting return visits to the Committee.”

Newly-filed court documents show that Cohen lied to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in their investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Prosecutors say that Cohen deliberately lied about his contacts with Russia about the property plans and the timeline of discussions about them in the Trump Organization.

He did so in order to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1,” an apparent reference to Trump, according to the criminal information.

Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements during an appearance in federal court in New York on Thursday.

Cohen has attracted increased public scrutiny since he pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges in a separate federal case in August, implicating Trump in a scheme that involved paying off women to prevent negative information from emerging during the campaign. 

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Burr and Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns Ex-Obama counterterrorism official: Huawei could pose security threat to international intelligence community Bipartisan senators to introduce bill forcing online platforms to disclose value of user data MORE (D-Va.) said then that they had “reengaged” Cohen to verify that he stood by his testimony before the committee, particularly his statement that he did not have advanced knowledge of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDemocrats seek to ban federal spending at Trump businesses Republicans, Trump Jr. signal support for embattled West Virginia governor The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back MORE, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortREAD: Hannity, Manafort messages released by judge Manafort, Hannity talk Trump, Mueller in previously undisclosed messages FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump puts the cart before the horse in Palestine Negotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline GOP launches 'WinRed' online fundraising site in response to Democrats' small-donor advantage MORE and a Russian lawyer.

Press reports had suggested Cohen was telling people privately that Trump had advanced knowledge of the meeting, which also conflicted with his closed-door testimony before the panel.

At the time, Cohen’s lawyer said that he stood by his testimony. Still, some lawmakers signaled they wanted to bring Cohen back in for questioning, though Burr told The Hill in late August that it was “yet to be decided” whether the committee would call him back. 

Cohen’s criminal information does not include any information about his testimony about his knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting.

The Senate panel has been investigating Russian interference for nearly two years and is expected to interview more witnesses and release a series of reports before concluding the investigation. Burr signaled recently the investigation would extend into 2019.

Warner reacted to the plea earlier Thursday, describing it as “yet another example of the President's closest allies lying about their contacts with Russia.”

“With each indictment and each guilty plea, we learn more about the President’s connections to Russia in the midst of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election,” Warner said. 

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee abruptly moved to end their investigation earlier this year, though Democrats have signaled they will revive it when they take control of the House.