President Donald Trump will not be getting a break from scrutiny anytime soon. Two newly installed powerful House committee chairs have now revealed they’ll be investigating newly surfaced allegations that the president directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump Organization efforts to put up a Trump Tower Moscow. The Trump team has responded to the news by attacking Cohen’s personal credibility — but he wasn’t even the source for the original story, which instead relied on a pair of anonymous law enforcement personnel and is apparently supported by others working behind the scenes, too.
Trump can’t escape the dismal reality of the situation. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) indicated that he’d be incorporating the question of whether or not the president directed Cohen commit perjury into his committee’s rebooted Russia investigation. When Republicans were in control, they prematurely shuttered their probe before looking into a whole host of lines of inquiry and potential witness testimony.
As Schiff put it:
‘The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.’
The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 18, 2019
The fact that Cohen lied in past testimony to the House Intelligence Committee is already established. He claimed that efforts to construct a Trump Tower Moscow ended in January 2016, but in fact, they extended for months after that down to the time that then-candidate Trump secured the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Throughout the negotiating process, Buzzfeed claims that Trump personally received regular updates and was vocally on board with components of the plan like meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of construction. The project was so intertwined with the Russian government that involved parties’ floated the idea of Putin getting a penthouse at one point!
While all that was happening behind the scenes, Trump was insisting publicly that he had nothing to do with Russia. On January 11, 2017, he shouted to the world on Twitter:
‘Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!’
That doesn’t match up with reality, and besides Schiff, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) is also on the case. Nadler has indicated he’ll be kickstarting a Russia investigation on his own committee, and he now adds:
‘We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The
@HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.’
As Nadler indicates, Trump has done something exactly like what he’s accused of now before, even outside the Russia investigation. He explicitly directed Cohen to make an illegal hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, with whom the eventual president had an affair — and then insisted he had nothing to do with it.
Possible paths forward for the president include impeachment and getting voted out in 2020.
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