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Trump says ex-lawyer Cohen 'lying' for reduced sentence

File photo of former personal attorney for US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( AFP )

Agencies Washington, USA Nov 29, 2018, 10.01 PM (IST)

US President Donald Trump said Thursday his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen was a "weak person" who was lying to get a reduced sentence after the fixer admitted misleading Congress over the Russia investigation.

"He is a weak person. And what he is trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he is lying about a project that everybody knew about," Trump told reporters at the White House.

Cohen entered his guilty plea in federal court in Manhattan to one count of making false statements to Congress in an investigation by lawmakers into whether Trump's campaign worked with Russia to sway the 2016 US election in his favour. The plea increased the pressure on Trump during the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia's role in the election.

The proposal at issue was to build a skyscraper bearing Trump's name in the Russian capital, a project that ultimately did not materialize. Cohen provided false statements to both the Senate and House intelligence committees to create the false impression the Moscow real estate project had ended by the time the political primary season began, the charging document said.

Cohen said in court that in 2017, he submitted a written statement to Congress saying all efforts relating to the real estate project in Moscow had ceased by January 2016. Cohen said that in fact, these efforts continued until June 2016.

Cohen also said that in the statement to Congress, he claimed to have had limited contact with Trump concerning the project, when in fact it had been "more extensive." Cohen also said he falsely told Congress he never took any steps toward travelling to Russia, when in fact he had discussed travelling there, although he never did.

Story highlights

'He is a weak person. And what he is trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he is lying about a project that everybody knew about,' Trump told reporters at the White House.