Thursday morning as Donald Trump made his way to the much-anticipated G20 conference in Argentina’s capital, his schedule was thrown into disarray by an unexpected and unusual twist: His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen entered a new guilty plea in the Southern District of New York regarding a hotly-contested piece of testimony that casts major doubt on many of Trump’s own statements.
Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday morning to lying to Congress — a federal crime — about plans made by Trump and the Trump Organization to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The President has said multiple times that the plans were scrapped due to financial infeasibility, which is what Cohen has initially told congressional investigators as well.
This new testimony now says that the workings for the construction project went on well into 2016, in the heart of the Trump campaign for the presidency. That would make many of the President’s claims of “not having any deals” with Russia totally false, and (this part is important) regardless of claims of collusion, mean that Trump was lying about not having any contact whatsoever with Russia during the campaign.
The unspoken subtext there, of course, is that if Trump was lying about communicating with Russian officials about something as innocuous as a construction project, there could be countless other communications with them is he lying about as well.
Trump responded as expected:
He’s a weak person. And by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he’s a weak person, and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about, I mean we were very open with it … I decided ultimately not to [do the Trump Tower Moscow project], there would have been nothing wrong with it if I did do it, if I did do it, there would have been nothing wrong, that’s — was — my business.”
As Trump caught himself at the end of that statement saying that real estate is his business, he has to have known how silly it is to say both things at once: That Cohen could be lying about something in order to get a reduced sentence and also that the thing he says Cohen is using as leverage would have been perfectly legal anyway.
Regardless, all of this explains Trump’s unhinged tweets today and over the past week about the ongoing Russia probe, and signals perhaps the beginning of a new phase of antagonistic posture for the President. Hopefully Republicans in the Senate will successfully press Majority Leader McConnell to allow a vote on a bill to protect the Special Counsel as Robert Mueller finishes his work.
Watch an NBC News clip of Trump speaking just a short time ago:
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 29, 2018
Featured image via screen capture