Speed Reads

Cohen in Congress

Michael Cohen will testify that Trump told him to lie to Congress, but not 'directly'

Michael Cohen will tell the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that President Trump indirectly ordered him to lie to Congress about a Russian real estate deal, according to a prepared opening statement obtained by Politico and The New York Times. BuzzFeed News reported in January that Trump ordered Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower deal, but Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office denied an unspecified part of that report. "Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That's not how he operates," Cohen will say, explaining:

In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there's no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me "How's it going in Russia?" — referring to the Moscow Tower project. ...

To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project. And so I lied about it, too — because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress. [Michael Cohen, via The New York Times]

The legal ramifications of indirectly ordering a subordinate to perjure himself are unclear.