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Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty earlier today to a charge of “false statements,” for lying to Congress about the extent of his and President Trump’s involvement in plan to build a “Trump Tower” in Moscow, Russia. Cohen falsely represented, in a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, that 1) “The ‘Moscow Project’ ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Company;” 2) “Cohen never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and ‘never considered’ asking [President Trump] to travel for the project;” and 3) “Cohen did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.” In fact Cohen communicated with Felix Sater, a real estate developer with Russian ties, about the project; told Sater he would travel to Russia; addressed Trump about the possibility of Trump traveling to Russia; and communicated directly with Russian officials about the project.

Obviously this looks bad for Trump. The evidence of these ongoing communications with Russian agents strengthen the case for collusion/conspiracy to defraud in that it helps to establish, at least, that Trump’s confidant and fixer had strong ties to Russia while Trump was campaigning for office, and goes a long way towards establishing that Trump had such ties as well. While that doesn’t get us all the way to conspiracy to defraud, it certainly helps to bring us closer. One email written by Sater in November 2015 about the project may be damning. It read in part: “our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it.”

e201bbe0-4806-4aef-a7f0-0a873d9738b7-AP_Trump_Lawyer_Party_Switch.jpgMary Altaffer, AP