President Donald Trump says ex-lawyer Michael Cohen is a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying’ to get a reduced sentence.’ Trump made the comments shortly after Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate deal in Russia. (Nov. 29)
BUENOS AIRES – President Donald Trump said Friday he had once “lightly looked” at doing a real estate project in Russia, despite years of denying he had any business ties in the country.
On Twitter, the former developer described a proposed development his company pursued in Russia as “very legal” and “very cool,” pushing back on criticism that has emerged after his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying about that deal.
Trump arrived Thursday to Buenos Aires for a G-20 summit of world leaders hours after details broke of Cohen’s plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Cohen told prosecutors that negotiations over the Russian project lasted longer into Trump’s presidential campaign than he previously acknowledged.
“Oh, I get it!” Trump tweeted early Friday in his first comment of the day. “I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President continue to run my business-very legal very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail.”
In a followup tweet, Trump said he “lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia.” But he said he “put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project.”
Trump has emphatically denied business dealings in Russia for years. At numerous presidential debates and media interviews during the campaign, Trump denied any business involvement in Russia.
“I’m all over the world but we’re not involved in Russia,” he told Florida television station during 2016.
Court documents, public statements and interviews Trump gave years earlier paint a different picture, suggesting that his intense interest in developing luxury real estate in Moscow stretches back decades.
….Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2018
The president abruptly canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the eve of the two-day G-20 summit. The White House described that decision as based on Russian military aggression after its ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels earlier this week.
Trump is scheduled to sign a renegotiated trade deal with Mexico and Canada and hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping. Trump appeared briefly Friday alongside Argentinian president Mauricio Macri, his first meeting of the day.
“I actually did business [with] his father,” Trump said of Macri. “That was in my civilian days.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated Friday that Ukraine was the reason Trump canceled the meeting, not Mueller’s investigation.
“The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia. However, the reason for our canceled meeting is Ukraine,” Sanders said in a statement.
“Hopefully, that will be resolved soon so that productive conversations can begin.”
More: From Trump fixer to Mueller informant: Timeline of Michael Cohen’s role in Russia probe
Report: Trump Organization planned to give $50 million penthouse to Putin amid Moscow deal
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about work he did on a Trump real estate deal in Russia. (Nov. 29)