Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has cut a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports. The deal will be announced in a New York federal court Thursday.
As part of the deal, Cohen will admit making false statements to Congress committees investigating the Russia scandal. The Associated Press reports that the false statements relate to a Trump real estate project in Russia — specifically, efforts to build a “Trump Tower Moscow.”
Stephanopoulos also claims, per his sources, that Cohen will provide “dozens of hours of testimony potentially damaging to” President Trump.
Cohen had already pleaded guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance charges as part of an investigation run by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. But he had not previously been charged as part of the Russia probe or officially agreed to cooperate with that investigation.
Cohen’s team has, however, been telling reporters for months that Cohen had bombshell information about the Trump-Russia scandal. But the claims about what Cohen purportedly knew sometimes changed, which has led to skepticism about whether he knew anything worthwhile.
Now, CNN reports that in the plea deal, Cohen will admit falsely telling Congress that talks about a potential deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow had concluded in early 2016, when in fact he continued to discuss later.
This is the first time the “Trump Tower Moscow” project has been mentioned in a Mueller charge
In the fall of 2015, Cohen — then Donald Trump’s lawyer and a Trump Organization executive — began exploring the possibility of building a Trump Tower in Moscow. He did so with the help of a longtime business associate, Russian-born developer Felix Sater.
“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater emailed Cohen. “Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins [sic] team to buy in on this.”
Trump’s company signed a letter of intent to build the Moscow tower in late 2015, the Times has reported. And when Cohen saw a news story about Putin praising Trump, he emailed Sater: “Now is the time … Call me.”
In mid-January 2016, just weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Cohen even emailed Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov asking for help with the project. “I am hereby requesting your assistance,” Cohen wrote. “I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals.”
Cohen has previously said he never got a response from Peskov and claimed the company abandoned the project soon afterward. However, BuzzFeed News’s Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold have documented that Cohen’s efforts to make Trump Tower Moscow happen continued through at least June 2016.