Mueller Racks Up Yet Another Process Crime with Michael Cohen's Guilty Plea
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to House and Senate intelligence committees regarding a potential deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen sent a letter to the Senate and House intelligence committees last year claiming that the Trump Organization’s pursuit of the Moscow deal ended in January 2016 and that Trump’s involvement was limited. He also claimed that he never agreed to travel to Russia to work on the deal and “never considered” asking Trump to do so. And he said he didn’t recall any response from Russian government officials to his inquiries about the proposal.
But Mueller stated in a court filing on Thursday that none of those claims were true. Cohen pleaded guilty to misleading Congress to “minimize links between the Moscow Project” and Trump — identified as “Individual 1” in the court filing — and make it seem like the project had ended before the Iowa caucus “in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”
Cohen kept discussing the Moscow project for longer than he’d admitted and asked Trump about the possibility of traveling to Russia “in connection with the Moscow Project.” And Cohen spoke at least once with the personal assistant to Dmitri Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, according to Mueller.
What to make of this? On the face of it, there doesn't seem to be much there.
It isn't illegal to have business interests in Russia. And the court filing makes no mention of any Steele dossier allegations, such as Cohen's alleged trip to Prague or work with Kremlin insiders to hack Democrats’ emails (which he has always vigorously denied).
So once again, we have a Trump team member being prosecuted for a process crime -- lying to the House and Senate intelligence committees.
It's nice to finally know that people can actually be prosecuted for lying to Congress, I guess.
When is the law going to catch up with serial prevaricators like John Brennan, James Clapper, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, and James Comey -- all of whom have been caught in lies to Congress or the FBI with no repercussions? In addition to these high-ranking former Obama officials, Fusion GPS's Glenn Simpson and British spy Christopher Steele have also been accused of lying to Congress. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley referred Steele to the Justice Department for prosecution way back in January, but so far nothing has been done in either case.
So how much legal jeopardy is the president now in?
According to Trump's lawyers, the president's recollection of the Moscow deal matches what Cohen said. The president answered written questions on Russia from the special counsel earlier this month, and a question about the Moscow deal was apparently among them.