Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer of President Donald Trump, has reached a new plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller and will plead guilty for lying to congressional committees as part of their investigation into possible collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia, according to reports.
Cohen is pleading guilty to lying to Congress about work he conducted on a Trump-releated real estate deal in Russia. The former Trump lawyer made a surprise appearance Thursday in a New York courtroom at around 9 p.m. local time and began entering the plea. Cohen admitted to making false statements in 2017 to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The New York native is said to have given 70 hours worth of testimony to Mueller’s office.
One of the prosecutors working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller was present in the courtroom. Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, confirmed to the judge that the plea deal involved cooperation with Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Cohen and Petrillo were mobbed by members of the press as they made there way out of the courthouse and into a waiting vehicle.
WATCH: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen exits federal court in Manhattan after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about work he did on a Trump real estate deal in Russia. https://t.co/6VteqRXgoD pic.twitter.com/PZe6bZS1me
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 29, 2018
The Guardian reports:
[Cohen] said on Thursday that Trump continued trying to develop a tower in Russia months into his campaign for the US presidency.
Cohen made the explosive allegation, which directly contradicts previous statements by him and Trump, while pleading guilty to lying to Congress in a deliberate attempt to hinder the Trump-Russia investigation.
Cohen said that efforts to construct a Trump property in Moscow, the Russian capital, actually continued until June 2016 – several months more than he has said previously. By that time, Trump was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
In August last year, Cohen told congressional investigators in a statement that in January 2016 it was decided the Moscow development “was not feasible for a variety of business reasons and should not be pursued further”.
In September 2017, Cohen said in a statement ahead of a closed-door testimoney he “had nothing to do with any Russian involvement in our electoral processm” and affirmed the “never saw anything – not a hint of anything – that demonstrated [President Donald Trump’s] involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion.”
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight federal charges and claimed Donald Trump directed him to arrange payments before the 2016 election to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model who had both alleged they had affairs with the real estate tycoon.
The former Trump lawyer is scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on December 12 and faces up to 63 months in prison with fines up to $1 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.