Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress during Russia probe

Nov. 29 (UPI) — Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump‘s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement Thursday to lying to Congress in the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

Prosecutors laid out the agreement in a nine-page filing in New York federal court.

The Justice Department charged Cohen for telling House and Senate committees last year that Trump‘s “Moscow Project” to build a Trump Tower there ended in January 2016 — when it continued after that date.

Trump has said multiple times he had no business dealings in Russia — and Cohen told lawmakers he never contacted anyone in Russia about the real estate project. The filing Thursday said Cohen, in fact, spoke on the phone with a Russian intermediary for help with the development.

Cohen also admitted to discussing the deal with Trump, identified in the court document as “Individual 1,” on three occasions and briefing Trump family members involved in the business.

Cohen said in the documents he lied out of loyalty and to minimize ties with Russia amid Trump‘s campaign. Mueller’s investigation is trying to determine if Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any members of Trump‘s campaign were involved.

The case marks the first time Cohen has been charged in connection with the Mueller probe, and the second time he was charged in federal court this year. In August, he pleaded guilty to eight counts that included breaking campaign finance laws. He accused Trump of ordering him to pay two women to hide a potential sex scandal right before November 2016 election.

Trump was asked about Cohen Thursday as he left the White House for a trip to Argentina, for the G20 summit.

“He’s a weak person,” he told reporters.

The charges in the first case were brought by U.S. attorneys in Manhattan. Although the agreement didn’t outline cooperation, Cohen has been interviewed numerous times by Mueller’s investigators, the New York Times reported.

“Mr. Cohen has cooperated,” Cohen’s attorney said as he left the courthouse in Manhattan Thursday. “Mr. Cohen will continue to cooperate.”

Sentencing guidelines would normally send a person to prison for between zero and six months on Cohen’s charges. Prosecutors said in Thursday’s filing they won’t seek punishment outside of that range if he keeps cooperating.

In his August plea deal, Cohen said he made a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels so she wouldn’t discuss a prior sexual relationship.

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