Congress Already Has Evidence Trump Lied Under Oath to Robert Mueller

I laid out what follows in this post, but given that the NYT’s weak questions for Robert Mueller exhibit ignorance on this point, I’m going to make this more explicit.

In a useless question designed to get Mueller to characterize Trump’s answers to the Special Counsel’s questions, the NYT asked whether the responses were “candid.”

In general, virtually all of Trump’s answers not only lacked candor, they were downright obnoxious. But on the topic of the Trump Tower Moscow project, Trump’s answers are not just insolent, they are lies.

One paragraph of his answers about it — submitted after Michael Cohen started cooperating but before Cohen’s plea deal regarding his lies to Congress — reads, [I’ve numbered the claims as reference points for the discussion that follows.]

I had [1] few conversations with Mr. Cohen on this subject. As I recall, they were brief, and [5] they were not memorable. I was not enthused about the proposal, and [2] I do not recall any discussion of travel to Russia in connection with it. I do not remember discussing it with anyone else at the Trump Organization, although it is possible. I do not recall being aware at the time of any communications between Mr. Cohen or Felix Sater and [3] any Russian government official regarding the Letter of Intent. In the course of preparing to respond to your questions, I have become aware that [4] Mr. Cohen sent an email regarding the Letter of Intent to “Mr. Peskov” at a general, public email account, which should show there was no meaningful relationship with people in power in Russia. I understand those documents already have been provided to you.

In that answer, Trump replicates three claims that match Michael Cohen’s statement to Congress but that Cohen swore under oath were lies in his plea agreement:

  1. The Moscow Project ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Company. … To the best of my knowledge , [Individual l] was never in contact with anyone about this proposal other than me on three occasions.
  2. COHEN never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and “never considered” asking Individual 1 to travel for the project.
  3. COHEN did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.

Cohen’s statement claimed he discussed this just three times with Trump; Trump claimed he only had a “few” such conversations rather than the ten Cohen would later admit to. Cohen’s statement claimed no one ever discussed traveling to Russia; Trump claimed not to recall any discussion of travel to Russia, even though he told Cohen to consult with Corey Lewandowski about when he could take such a trip. Cohen’s statement disclaimed any Russian government response to the Letter of Intent; Trump claimed the only contact with the Russian government was an unanswered letter to Peskov’s public line, rather than the email response from Elena Poliakova that led to a 20 minute conversation that Cohen described to Trump immediately after it finished.

In all three of those statements, then, Trump hewed to the false statement Jay Sekulow helped Cohen write.

That said, Trump made assertions about those three topics in such a way as to claim he didn’t remember the things Cohen remembered in his proffer sessions with Mueller. So as far as those answers go, Trump is covered legally, even if it is more clear these are lies than some of his other non-responsive answers.

Not so Trump’s claim that Cohen’s only contact with Dmitry Peskov was via “a general, public email account” [marked 4, above]. Mueller obtained the January 20, 2016 email response from Peskov’s assistant, Elena Poliakova, asking Cohen to call her. By itself, that email is proof there was a response from the Russian government (though not an obvious one; she wrote it from her personal email account).

Per Cohen’s congressional testimony, the email formed part of the Mueller interviews with Cohen.

O Do you have a copy of this January 20th, 2016, email from Elena Poliyakova (ph)?

A I do not.

Q When was the last time you saw a copy of this email?

A Again, at one of the hearings that I attended.

Q With the special counsel’s office?

A I believe so, yes.

This email is one of the reasons I’m so interested in the fact that Mueller obtained Cohen’s Trump Organization emails from Microsoft, and only subpoenaed Trump Organization the following year for such things: because Mueller obtained this email, Congress (apparently) did not receive it in response to a subpoena, and Trump’s lawyers continued to deny the existence of it in November 2018. That suggests Trump’s lawyers continued to hide the existence of this email, even in preparing the President’s lawyers to write answers to Mueller’s questions.

(Note: given Don Jr’s reluctance to testify to Mueller but his willingness to testify to Congress, it’s possible there are damning emails involving him obtained from Microsoft that Trump Organization withheld from Congress, as well.)

Still, thus far, Trump could blame his faulty memory and his lawyers for the inaccuracies of his sworn answers to Mueller.

Not so after his public statements in the wake of Cohen’s plea, as Mueller laid out in his report, pointing to the same paragraph I’ve analyzed above.

On November 20, 2018, the President submitted written responses that did not answer those questions about Trump Tower Moscow directly and did not provide any information about the timing of the candidate’s discussions with Cohen about the project or whether he participated in any discussions about the project being abandoned or no longer pursued. 1049 Instead, the President’s answers stated in relevant part:

I had few conversations with Mr. Cohen on this subject. As I recall; they were brief, and they were not memorable. I was not enthused about the proposal, and I do not recall any discussion of travel to Russia in connection with it. I do not remember discussing it with anyone else at the Trump Organization, although it is possible. I do not recall being aware at the time of any communications between Mr. Cohen and Felix Sater and any Russian government official regarding the Letter of Intent. 1050

On November 29, 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress based on his statements about the Trump Tower Moscow project. 1051 In a plea agreement with this Office, Cohen agreed to “provide truthful information regarding any and all matters as to which this Office deems relevant.”1052 Later on November 29, after Cohen’s guilty plea had become public, the President spoke to reporters about the Trump Tower Moscow project, saying:

I decided not to do the project. . . . I decided ultimately not to do it. There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. If I did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. That was my business …. It was an option that I decided not to do …. I decided not to do it. The primary reason . . . I was focused on running for President. . . . I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would’ve gone back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities? 1053 [my empahsis]


In light of the President’s public statements following Cohen’s guilty plea that he “decided not to do the project,” this Office again sought information from the President about whether he participated in any discussions about the project being abandoned or no longer pursued, including when he “decided not to do the project,” who he spoke to about that decision, and what motivated the decision. 1057 The Office also again asked for the timing of the President’s discussions with Cohen about Trump Tower Moscow and asked him to specify “what period of the campaign” he was involved in discussions concerning the project. 1058 In response, the President’s personal counsel declined to provide additional information from the President and stated that “the President has fully answered the questions at issue.” 1059

1053 President Trump Departure Remarks, C-SPAN (Nov. 29, 2018). In contrast to the President’s remarks following Cohen’s guilty plea, Cohen’s August 28, 2017 statement to Congress stated that Cohen, not the President, “decided to abandon the proposal” in late January 2016; that Cohen “did not ask or brief Mr. Trump … before I made the decision to terminate further work on the proposal”; and that the decision · to abandon the proposal was “unrelated” to the Campaign. P-SCO-000009477 (Statement of Michael D. Cohen, Esq. (Aug. 28, 2017)).

1057 1/23/19 Letter, Special Counsel’s Office to President’s Personal Counsel.

1058 1/23/ 19 Letter, Special Counsel’s Office to President’s Personal Counsel.

1059 2/6/ l 9 Letter, President’s Personal Counsel to Special Counsel’s Office.

As Mueller pointed out in footnote 1053, Trump’s comments to the press conflict in significant ways with Cohen’s statement to Congress, in that they show the project continued past January and that the decision to end it related to the campaign.

Unstated here — but almost certainly the reason why Mueller went back to Trump after these comments (and Rudy Giuliani’s comments admitting the deal continued all the way to the election) — is that by stating that “I decided” even while justifying continuing to pursue the deal during the campaign because, “why should I lose lots of opportunities,” Trump is admitting that he recalls the discussions about the deal and was enthusiastic about it [marked with 5 above].

Trump’s sworn answer to Mueller is that these conversations were not memorable and he was not enthused about the project. But even after submitting those sworn statements, Trump went on TV and described remembering precisely what happened and decribed the deal as an opportunity he didn’t want to lose.

Effectively, those statements amounted to Trump going on TV and admitting he lied under oath to Mueller.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

36 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Crisp, like fine sauvignon blanc:

    Trump’s sworn answer to Mueller is that these conversations were not memorable and he was not enthused about the project. But even after submitting those sworn statements, Trump went on TV and described remembering precisely what happened and decribed the deal as an opportunity he didn’t want to lose.

    • Americana says:

      Yes! Raining shoes!

      It’s too late now but I wish someone had asked Cohen how many other deals he turned down on Trump’s behalf that involved this extravagant $$$ potential of Trump Tower Moscow (as well as subsequent penetration of the Russia real estate market following the construction of TTM). Since when was Cohen ever identified as the decider in the Trump Organization for other signature projects?

  2. Desider says:

    I probably already know the answer, but how hard would it be to get these lawyers disbarred for knowingly assisting with false statements? (presumably a Presidential pardon wouldn’t help them)

  3. Alan K says:

    Bravo. Do you think Trump realizes that, unlike his team of perjurers, he cannot be pardoned by Himself? Oh but wait, perhaps Pence will pardon him once the Russians win another one.

    • SharkWoman says:

      He realizes. #TrumpTerrifiedOfMueller was trending after his barrage of tweets today which show such a clear consciousness of guilt.

      • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

        Don’t underestimate the ability of Trump’s people to send a message to Pence about all the bad things that could happen if there is no pardon. This is the way Trump works.

      • Rayne says:

        I think Pence would. I think he’d feel beholden to the power that put him where he is to do so. There’s a reason he isn’t leaking and ratting out Trump, after all.

        • P J Evans says:

          He wants to be president – but does he want it enough to pardon someone who really has committed the crimes they’re accused of?

          • OmAli says:

            Did it stop Ford? Pence would do it in a heartbeat. The one thing you can count on from Trump is that he is a vindictive little shit. Pence wouldn’t take that chance.

              • Rayne says:

                I’d love to see it but I think we’d have seen more evidence in the SCO report. If Pence is impeachable, it’s his failure to intervene.

      • Americana says:

        Pence might feel pardoning Trump would benefit the Republican party. The reality is the only thing that will save the Republican party now is to impeach Trump shoulder to shoulder right alongside the Democrats. If Republicans continue to undermine American institutions like the FBI and the CIA by allowing Trump to excoriate them unchallenged by members of his party, they face the same ignominy as Trump. If Republicans keep claiming Trump is pure as taiga snow despite all the evidence, Republicans are committing themselves to the same ignominy Trump is facing.

        • rip says:

          Agree with you on Pence pardoning the dump.

          But wonder if the repuglicon party wouldn’t just be better embracing shit in all its fecundity as its symbol. Just give up on pretending to care about people – grab the wonderfulness of turdity.

          Tiaga snow could be replaced by pure cesspools of offalness.

          • Americana says:

            Offalness/awfulness semi-pun!!!

            I’m holding out for someone being able to secure the information proving Roger Stone’s/Assange’s/Guccifer’s connections to Trump. There’s no other explanation that works in my mind to explain the design of the overall schematic and the email links (from content to timing) between Stone, Guccifer, Assange and Trump and his campaign than the following:

            Stone and Trump agreed that Trump pretending to fire Stone was the way to make a big display of severing Stone’s relationship to Trump and the Trump campaign so Stone would be able to operate in the relative anonymity of his own cyber/phone universe.

  4. Badger Robert says:

    Are these statements to the FBI required to be truthful, by law? What is the statute of limitations?

  5. robert britton says:

    i’m one of the few who read the mueller report. i stayed tuned in to trying my best to understand the facts.

    it was clear to me that Trump committed crimes.

    so i, like many, want to see justice for our country.

    on wednesday, so many fools like me are going to be watching the mueller testimony, praying that he finally steps up, stops with the pussy footing around and ambiguous legal double talk and be the patriotic warrior and defender of our country that we need him to be

    but you know what? i’m tired of being a sucker and a fool. i’m tired of hoping the heroes, the eagle scouts, the honorable defenders of our constitution will finally step up and FIGHT Against this evil corruption defiling our white house.

    wednesday, Mueller won’t do shit. Nadler won’t do shit. Pelosi won’t do shit. cowards the lot of them.

    for months, congress has allowed not just trump, but the tiniest SMALL PEOPLE like hope hicks, mnuchin, mcgahn, and ross get away with pissing on congress, ignoring the constitution and subpoenas simply saying FUCK YOU.

    pelosi is guilty of dishonoring her oath, as is Trump and so many others who have through their actions and inactions allowed our country to slip deep into the filth and foul of evil and hate.

    i’m so sad to see that there were no heroes sounding the trumpet call and no one to heed the call and FIGHT.

    AMERICA FELL without even a fight to a piece of idiotic filth like Donald J Trump.

    beyond hope. beyond belief that we can overcome.

    this is a country i no longer recognize, one i did not serve in the navy to support and defend.

    will no true leaders show up and FIGHT?

    • Mongoose says:

      No, because no “true leaders” have emerged in the last 80 years. We are helpless. Democrats wasted precious time by placing all their faith in Mueller, with no return on their investment. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

    • jayedcoins says:

      Regarding Pelosi — the key to all of this — it’s actually pretty simple. Even *if* Robert Mueller makes a crystal clear case to Congress and the American people that the president is plainly impeachable, Pelosi will have cave on several fronts to respond to it by authorizing the beginning of an impeachment inquiry.

      I say this quite genuinely — it takes a lot of courage to admit you’re wrong and change course. I am not at all convinced there is *anything* (short of a donor exodus to a legitimate primary challenger) that can push Pelosi to effectively say, “I was wrong, these young progressive women were right, it’s time.” Show me proof she can put her ego aside and admit such an abhorrent mistake and work to make amends.

    • Democritus says:

      God I know the feeling, but I’m afraid if not us who?

      We must continue the fight, but as we get worn down by the nonstop disinfo operations, hateful divisive rhetoric, and despair we must step back and take care of ourselves and recharge and let some others carry the load. But then we MUST come back and pick the load back up so others can do the same.

      Take care Robert, and don’t let the assholes get you too far down.

      Though I have idealistic tendencies that have taking hit after hit.

      I just saw this article on Mental Toughness that I’ve seen making the rounds here and there. But also make sure you have self care too.

      We must not let the twatwaffles win! Our country has so much darkness in its past, but I also think it’s has the most capacity for acts of good if we can wrestle back control from the corrupt oligarchs and crime syndicates that seem to be spreading worldwide.

      Make sure to spend some time looking at the helpers, so not the good Germans of ICE but the never again is now protest movement that is growing. Look at the Parkland kids. Look at Julie K Brown who decades later pulled the darkness of Epstein’s corruption of our legal system into the light.

      America’s capacity for goodness has not disappeared, but we must get our political leaders to look beyond their next donor check or whatever Nacys malfunction is.

    • Ckymonstaz says:

      Well said and thank you for your service!

      Sadly any chance for justice or Mueller stepping up to hold Trump and the repugs accountable died when he chose not to indict on obstruction (God knows the evidence is there and many prosecutors have won cases with less!) and was buried for good when Mueller let the disgrace that is Bill Barr frame the narrative for weeks unchallenged

  6. OldTulsaDude says:

    Comrade Barr is trying to use executive privilege to kill any investigative oversight, and the gutless Democrats are powerless to stop him because they won’t start an impeachment inquiry.

  7. Marinela says:

    Do we know if Bill Barr squashed the ongoing investigations that Mueller didn’t address?
    Is being radio silence and I fear Barr did or is in process of “wrapping” those up.
    Maybe Mueller can add some light to the number of investigations that he started.

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