U.S.

Donald Trump Says Michael Cohen Is ‘Lying’ but Even If He’s Telling the Truth It’s Fine

President Donald Trump called his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who on Thursday pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate venture in Russia, a liar, a “weak person” and “not a very smart person” and accused him of “making up a story” to try to get a reduced prison sentence. 

“What he’s trying to do, because he’s a weak person and not a very smart person, what he’s trying to do is end, and it’s very simple, he’s got himself a big prison sentence and he’s trying to get himself a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story,” Trump said outside the White House.

“Now, here the thing—even if he was right, it doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign,” Trump continued. “I was running my business, a lot of things during the campaign. So very simply, Michael Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me.”

The president then said the project, which he did not pursue, was “very public” and everybody knew about. “I wasn’t trying to hide anything,” Trump said.

Trump reiterated his point as he addressed reporters.

“He was given a fairly long jail sentence and he’s a weak person and by being weak—unlike other people that you watch,” Trump said, possibly referring to his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort whose cooperation with the special counsel was scrapped earlier this week for repeatedly lying. “He’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence, so he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about.”

donald trump, michael cohen, lying President Donald Trump answers questions from the press while leaving the White House on November 29. Trump answered numerous questions regarding his former attorney Michael Cohen's recent court appearance and testimony before departing for the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. Trump said Cohen is "lying" and "weak." Win McNamee/Getty Images

Cohen on Thursday admitted he lied to the House and Senate Intelligence committees about when he worked on a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Cohen said Trump talked to him more extensively about the project than he had initially disclosed to Congress. Cohen previously said that his discussions about the project ended in January 2016, which was before the Iowa caucuses that are considered the first presidential votes. Prosecutors alleged that Cohen was on the project as late as June 2016, when Trump was the presumed Republican presidential nominee.

Trump before taking off for the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires told reporters that Cohen was convicted “with a fairly long-term sentence on things totally unrelated to the Trump Organization, having to do with mortgages and having to do with cheating the IRS perhaps, a lot of other things I don’t know exactly, but he was convicted of various things unrelated to us.”

The president’s statement on Thursday was markedly different from his stance in mid-2016. Trump in July 2016, about a month after prosecutors allege the Moscow project failed to materialize, tweeted: “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”

Join the Discussion