Photo: AP

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney and onetime Deputy Finance Chair for the Republican National Committee, appeared in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday, where he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress regarding a proposed real estate project between Trump and Russian officials.

Cohen’s plea is separate from his prior admission that he’d committed a number of financial crimes stemming in part from what he described as his work covering up hush money payments for women with whom Trump had had affairs. Following that plea, Cohen began meeting with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, spending more than 70 hours talking with Mueller’s investigators.

Thursday’s guilty plea marks the first time Cohen has been formally charged as a part of Mueller’s probe into possible Russian interference in the 2016 president election.

Multiple reports suggest Cohen’s guilty plea stems from his having lied to Congress about the timeline and scope of plans for a Trump Tower Moscow construction project. He’d previously claimed that project had concluded in early 2016.

Advertisement

I have reached out to the White House for comment on Cohen’s plea, and will update this story if they respond.

Update, 10:52 a.m. ET: President Trump responded to Cohen’s plea to reporters outside the White House on Friday, insisting that he’d committed no crime, and calling his onetime aide a “weak person.”