hint: they're big
In Thursday deal arranged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen said Trump's discussions with Moscow lasted longer than he previously admitted, marking a continuation of Cohen's cooperation with Mueller after implicating the president when he pleaded guilty to eight financial crimes in August. Here are five big takeaways from Thursday's plea deal.
1. Individual 1 — the person who Cohen says directed his initial financial crimes — made a second appearance. On Thursday, Cohen said he lied to Congress "to be consistent with Individual 1's messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1." Individual 1, as many have reported, is President Trump.
2. There's also an unnamed Individual 2 who invited Cohen to attend an economic forum with "Russian Official 1." The Washington Post connected the dots to conclude Individual 2 is Felix Sater, a liaison between the Trump business and Russian real estate. Court documents also state the official was Russian President Vladimir Putin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.
3. Cohen was eventually in direct contact with Peskov, or at least his English-speaking assistant.
4. Cohen's admitted crime — lying to Congress — is very rarely prosecuted, NBC News' Jonathan Allen says. "This could be very bad news for others in the Russia probe if they didn't tell the truth on the Hill," Allen tweeted, seeing as it signals Mueller's team is willing to weed out and prosecute falsities.
5. This isn't the end of the Cohen-Mueller cooperation, Cohen's attorney said as he left court Thursday.