BUZZFEED News reported on Friday, January 18 that President Donald Trump personally directed his long-time personal attorney/fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress under oath during the hearing about negotiations to build the Trump Tower in Moscow, by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
Yes. Moscow, Russia.
This, after Trump claiming he has no business interests deals, nor a relationship with Russia, amid the alleged conspiracy with Russia to hurt the campaign of Hillary Clinton and help Trump win in the 2016 presidential election. Behind the lies, Buzzfeed said Trump “was pushing the Moscow project, which he hoped could bring his company profits in excess of $300 million.”
The report, whose sources are two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation of the matter, stated that Cohen drafted the plan for Trump to personally meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to jumpstart the negotiations during the presidential campaign, and Trump told Cohen, “Make it happen.”
Trump, who Buzzfeed News said received 10 personal updates on this business deal, is not the only one in the Trump business empire reportedly involved and with knowledge about this plan. The news sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
After a long waiting time before Trump and his administration responded to this report, the strategy was to question the credibility of Cohen who they said is a convicted criminal.
True. The report stated “Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to ‘minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1’ — widely understood to be Trump — “in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.’”
But Cohen was not the only source of this information. According to the sources of the Buzzfeed News report, “the special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.” These would corroborating hard evidence to Cohen’s testimony.
Buzzfeed said this revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The firing of Comey was another red flag that compelled the FBI to launch a counterintelligence investigation to find out if Trump was working for and in the behest of Russia.
But according to the report, “Cohen’s testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.”
HOWEVER, the Office of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a carefully written statement in the early evening that said the report’s characterization of the “documents and testimony was “inaccurate.” This, however, appear to be not disputing the report as a whole, but the “characterization of the documents and testimony”.
BUZZFEED responded with a statement that it will continue to report on how and why the Special Counsel responded that way, but stands in the accuracy of its report. “Stay tuned.”
AS THIS NEWS has dominated the headlines of Friday amid Day 28 of the government shutdown, President Trump tweeted a “teaser” at 2:51 pm that stated:
“I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.”
Prior to this, Trump tweeted earlier in the day without offering supporting proof or evidence:
5:22 am ET: “Border rancher:’ We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.’ Washington Examiner People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.”
6:13 am: “Another big Caravan heading our way. Very hard to stop without a Wall!”
WHAT WILL TRUMP ANNOUNCE? Why did he not announce it Friday?
Will he be declaring a national emergency so he could channel the funds appropriated for military projects and disaster relief to build his wall? Would this be his way end the shutdown without bowing down to the Democrats?
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos