Road to Cohen’s guilty plea winds through Trump Tower Moscow
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress about a real estate deal the president’s company was pursuing in Russia during the 2016 campaign, including about how long those negotiations went on. Here’s how that deal, which later collapsed, played out:
— June 2015: Trump announces his candidacy for U.S. president as a Republican.
— September 2015: Cohen says that in his capacity as a lawyer for the Trump Organization he received a proposal for a hotel, office and residential building in Russia that came to be known as the Trump Tower Moscow project. One of Trump’s numerous corporate entities enters into a letter of intent on the project later the next month.
— January 2016: Cohen emails the office of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asking for help getting the Trump Tower Moscow project off the ground. He then has a 20-minute phone call with one of Peskov’s assistants about it and asked for help “in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction,” according to court papers. Cohen later tells Congress that he killed the proposal this month but that wasn’t true.
— Feb. 2, 2016: Trump places second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Iowa Republican caucuses, the first contest in the 2016 presidential campaign.
— May 4-6, 2016: Felix Sater, an executive who had worked on and off for the Trump Organization, and Cohen discuss having Trump visit Russia after the Republican National Convention. They also discuss the possibility of Cohen meeting in mid-June with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Sater said that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had invited Cohen as his guest.
— June 9, 2016: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort attend a meeting at Trump Tower in New York with a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya, who promised to provide the Trump campaign damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. The meeting had been described in emails to Trump Jr. as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.
— June 9-14, 2016: Court papers say that Cohen and Sater exchanged several messages about the Trump Tower Moscow project and Cohen’s travel to Russia.
— June 14, 2016: The Democratic National Committee announces that its computer networks were penetrated by Russian hackers. According to court papers, Cohen meets with Sater in the lobby of Trump Tower and tells him he would not be traveling back to Russia “at that time.”
— July 18-21, 2016: Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president at the party’s convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The party changes its platform to soften its support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
— July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks releases the first batch of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.
— July 27, 2016: In a speech, Trump encourages Russia to “find” and release Clinton’s emails. That same day, Russian-government hackers attempt to breach email accounts used by Clinton’s personal office and her campaign, according to an indictment later brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
— July 30, 2016: The FBI opens a counterintelligence investigation into Russian government efforts to influence the election, including whether members of Trump’s campaign are involved. The investigation is prompted by former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos’s contacts with Russian intermediaries, including one who said the Russians had dirt on Clinton.
— November 2016: Donald Trump wins presidential election.
— January 2017: The House and Senate intelligence committees open investigations into Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates. Trump inaugurated as 45th president.
— May 2017: Trump fires James Comey, who, as FBI director, was in charge of the investigation into Russian interference. Mueller, a former FBI director, is appointed as special counsel to take over the probe.
— Aug. 28, 2017: Cohen submits to Congress a two-page letter about the Trump Tower Moscow deal, saying that the project ended in January 2016, that he only discussed the proposal three times with Trump, that he never considered traveling to Russia or asking Trump to travel there, and that he did not recall having contact with the Russian government about the proposal. All of those statements were false, according to court papers.
— September and October 2017: Cohen says in prepared remarks to the Senate intelligence committee that the Trump Moscow deal ended “before the Iowa caucus and months before the first primary.” He says the same during testimony before the committee. Thursday he admitted that he had lied.
— August 2018: Cohen pleads guilty to eight federal charges, including campaign finance offenses. He said at the time that Trump had directed him to arrange payments before the 2016 election to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model. Both alleged they had affairs with Trump. It was the first time any Trump associate implicated Trump personally in a crime. Whether — or when — a president can be prosecuted remains a matter of legal dispute. Trump has denied any wrongdoing as well as the extramarital affairs.
— Nov. 29, 2018: Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress. Cohen admits to several false statements including that he briefed Trump while the presidential campaign was ongoing more times than he had previously disclosed. Cohen also says that he briefed Trump’s family members about the project. This case was the first against Cohen brought by Mueller.
— Dec. 12, 2018: Cohen is set to be sentenced by a federal judge.
Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.