President Trump directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, two federal law enforcement officials tell BuzzFeed News. Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign to meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen. Even as Trump said publicly he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about the deal in testimony. 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.”
Sources said Cohen told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie in order to obscure Trump’s involvement. Cohen’s testimony is the first known example of Trump’s explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia. On the campaign trail, Trump vehemently denied having any business interests in Russia. Behind the scenes, he was pushing the Moscow project, which he hoped could bring his company profits of $300 million. The law enforcement sources said he had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign.