President Donald Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia, and the extent of the president's involvement in and knowledge of that deal.
Cohen's plea in federal court in Manhattan, his second in four months, came as part of a new deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.
Prosecutors said Cohen lied in order to minimize links between Trump and his Moscow building project, and to give the false impression that the project had died before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016, the first contest on the path toward a presidential nomination.
On the White House's South Lawn after Cohen's court appearance, the president accused his former fixer of lying about his most recent admissions in order to "get a reduced sentence."
"He's a weak person and not a very smart person," Trump said.
Trump's lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, attacked Cohen's credibility: "Michael Cohen is a liar."
Cohen, 52, did not previously have a formal cooperation agreement with Mueller, but it is known that he has been speaking for the past several months to the special counsel's office and other law enforcement entities. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination between Trump campaign-related figures and the Kremlin, as well as possible obstruction of justice by Trump.