Democrats to Probe Report That Trump Told Cohen to Lie to Congress
Democratic lawmakers say they will investigate whether U.S. President Donald Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, following allegations in a news report.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Friday that the allegation was "among the most serious to date." He said "we will do what's necessary to find out'' if the report is true.
BuzzFeed News reported late Thursday that two anonymous federal law enforcement officials were the sources for the report about the president and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement Friday that "any suggestion — from any source — that the president counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false.'' White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the story was ridiculous.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said that directing a subordinate to lie to Congress would be a federal crime and that his committee's job "is to get to the bottom of it."
Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, who has announced he will run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, posted on Twitter that if the BuzzFeed story was true, Trump "must resign or be impeached."
BuzzFeed reported that Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that the president told him to lie to Congress about Trump's dealings with Russia.
The news site said its anonymous sources were also "involved in an investigation of the matter."
According to the BuzzFeed account, Trump and two of his children — Ivanka and Donald Jr. — "received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project."
At the same time Cohen was providing the Trumps with news about the business negotiations with Russia, BuzzFeed said, Trump was engaged in his successful presidential election and denying that he had any business deals with Russia.
BuzzFeed said investigators learned about Trump's effort to get 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."
Trump tweeted Friday that Cohen is "Lying to reduce his jail time!''
Cohen pleaded guilty of lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow. He has been sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that include paying hush money to women who allegedly had sexual encounters with Trump.
Cohen is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February, when he will likely be questioned about the report.
Mueller and his team of prosecutors have been investigating Trump campaign links to Russia as well as looking into whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.
Trump has repeatedly denied collusion with Russia and has called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt." Russia also has rejected U.S. intelligence findings that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to boost Trump.