President Donald Trump on Thursday called his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen a "weak person" in response to news he pled guilty to lying to Congress.
Trump, before heading to the G20 meeting in Argentina, stopped to answer reporters' questions on the White House lawn about developing news that Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress about the Russian probe.
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"So Michael Cohen has made many statements to the House, as I understand it, and the Senate. He put out a statement talking about a project, which was essentially I guess more or less of an option that we were looking at in Moscow," Trump said. "Everyone knew about it. It was written about in newspapers … I didn't do the project. I decided not to do the project, so I didn't do it, so we're not talking about doing a project. We are talking about not doing a project."
Trump said Cohen was convicted of doing "various things," unrelated to the presidential campaign or his administration, that will give Cohen a "fairly long-term sentence." He continued by saying Cohen is a "weak person" and is therefore trying to get a reduced sentence.
"He is lying about a project that everybody knew about. We were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building … I decided ultimately not to do it. There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it," Trump reiterated.
"He is lying very simply to get a reduced sentence, okay?" he added.
Cohen appeared in federal court on Thursday after reaching a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller to enter a guilty plea for misstatements to Congress in closed-door testimony last year about his connections to Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to ABC News.
Cohen’s earlier plea deal with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York implicated President Trump in campaign finance felonies. Since then, Cohen has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller's team. The questioning has focused on contacts with Russians by Trump associates during the campaign, Trump’s business ties to Russia, obstruction of justice and talk of possible pardons, sources familiar with the discussions have told ABC News.
"The potential significance of Cohen’s cooperation is immense," said Kendall Coffey, a former United States Attorney in Florida.
As Trump’s personal attorney and problem solver for more than a decade, Cohen’s portfolio at the Trump Organization covered personal and business matters both routine and highly sensitive. His dealings while serving as a senior executive in Trump’s global empire include several projects thought to be of interest to Mueller’s prosecutors, most notably the pursuit of a Trump Tower project in Moscow during the presidential campaign.