During his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017, Donald Trump Jr. claimed he “wasn’t involved” in the Trump Organization’s efforts to build a tower in Moscow, “was not” aware that Michael Cohen directly reached out to the Kremlin about it, and suggested Cohen’s efforts to work with Russian-born developer Felix Sater on the project ended prior to 2016.
But Trump Jr.’s sworn testimony is difficult to square with details contained in court filings pertaining to Cohen’s new plea agreement, which assert that the effort to get Trump Tower Moscow off the ground continued well into 2016 and happened with the Trump family’s knowledge.
According to Mueller’s filing, Cohen “briefed family members of Individual 1 [Donald Trump] within the Company about the project” in Moscow.
COHEN discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 [Trump] on more than the three occasions COHEN claimed to the Committee, and he briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project.
While it’s unclear which “family members” the filings refer to, given Trump Jr.’s role as one of the top Trump Organization officials, it’s hard to imagine he wasn’t among them. Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump are all family members of Trump’s who were working at the time for the Trump Organization.
Also unclear is whether Cohen briefed any Trump “family members” about emails he sent to Kremlin officials “asking for assistance in connection with the Russia project.” In his testimony, Trump said he “was not” aware of Cohen’s overtures to the Kremlin, and was only “peripherally aware” of the project.
What Donald Trump Jr told Congress about Moscow Tower deal— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) November 29, 2018
Note Michael Cohen plea: "briefed family members...within the Company about the project"
Don Jr to Senate:
Sater worked on deal "in 2015"
"I wasn't involved"
Were you aware Cohen reached out to Kremlin? "No, I was not" pic.twitter.com/ITyt6cc7dd
The plea deal indicates that Cohen’s efforts to get a Trump Moscow project off the ground continued as late as June 2016, when in the days following the infamous Trump Tower meeting between top campaign surrogates (including Trump Jr.) and a Russian lawyer, Cohen canceled a trip to Russia that had been arranged by Sater for reasons that remain unclear.
Trump Jr., however, testified to Congress that “I believe in 2015 [Sater] worked on something to that effect with Mike Cohen.”
Trump Jr.’s testimony hasn’t aged well in more ways than one
The new plea agreement isn’t the first time Cohen has drawn aspects of Trump Jr.’s congressional testimony into question.
Cohen, through his lawyer, indicated his willingness in July to testify under oath that Donald Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Kremlin-connected Russians who promised political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Cohen said Trump Jr. told his father about the meeting in advance.
“Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr.,” CNN reported. “By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources.”
But during his testimony, Trump Jr. unequivocally denied informing his father — who teased a major speech in which he’d divulge dirt about Hillary Clinton just two days before the Trump Tower meeting.
Q. Did you inform your father about the meeting or the underlying offer prior to the meeting?
A. No, I did not.
After the New York Times broke news about the Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2017, Donald Trump dictated a misleading statement for his son that claimed “a program about the adoption of Russian children” was the reason his campaign met with Russians.
That statement was almost immediately contradicted by emails Trump Jr. voluntarily released. The correspondence doesn’t contain the word “adoptions” a single time, and it makes clear the meeting was really about the Trump campaign’s desire to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Fibbing to the public is one thing; doing it during congressional testimony is another. It is against the law to lie to Congress, even if you’re not under oath.