President Donald Trump defended having “very legal” conversations about building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential election, one day after his longtime fixer Michael Cohen admitted lying about the project.
“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). 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!”
Cohen, who served as Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, on Thursday pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about the Trump Organization’s plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The company ultimately did not go ahead with the project.
Prosecutors said Cohen knowingly misled congressional investigators when he said negotiations for the deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organization executives.
Cohen’s guilty plea was a confirmation that Trump was not being truthful when he denied having any financial interests in Russia during the campaign, according to reporting by Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth.
It also adds context to other meetings and financial dealings between Trump campaign associates and Russian nationals during the 2016 election.
Cohen is expected to give dozens of hours of testimony that could severely damage Trump. The president called his former lawyer a liar and a “weak person” after the announcement of the plea deal:
Two law-enforcement officials also said that Cohen discussed the idea with a spokesman for Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, BuzzFeed News reported.
The Trump Organization also reportedly wanted to give Russian President Vladimir Putin the penthouse in the building.