Trump kicks off G20 summit defending his business interests in wake of Cohen revelations

President Donald Trump began his G20 summit with matters back in the United States on his mind, defending his business dealings and casting himself as a victim of special counsel Robert Mueller.  

Early Friday morning, before he headed out to breakfast with Argentina President Mauricio Macri, the president showed what his focus was on when he took to twitter  to tout the personal sacrifice he made to run for president after he saw the ‘country going in the wrong direction, adding that ‘against all odds’ he won the White House.

He ended his twitter tirade with his favorite designation for Mueller’s investigation: ‘Witch hunt!’

President Donald Trump began his G20 summit with matters back in the United States on his mind ahead of his breakfast meeting with Argentina President Mauricio Macri

President Donald Trump began his G20 summit with matters back in the United States on his mind ahead of his breakfast meeting with Argentina President Mauricio Macri

President Donald Trump began his G20 summit with matters back in the United States on his mind ahead of his breakfast meeting with Argentina President Mauricio Macri

Trump dropped his earpiece, which provides a translation, in his meeting Macri

Trump dropped his earpiece, which provides a translation, in his meeting Macri

Trump dropped his earpiece, which provides a translation, in his meeting Macri

Trump took to twitter first thing on his first day at the G20

Trump took to twitter first thing on his first day at the G20

Trump took to twitter first thing on his first day at the G20

He showed the Russia investigation was on his mind

He showed the Russia investigation was on his mind

He showed the Russia investigation was on his mind

‘Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail…

….Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!,’ the president wrote in a pair of tweets on Friday morning.

Trump’s twitter blast comes after his former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted to lying to lawmakers about about his business talks withRussia during the 2016 campaign. 

And even though he’s 5,000 miles away from Washington D.C., Trump’s attention has been on the Russia investigation. He tweeted about both upon his arrival in Argentina Friday night – blasting out defensive statements his supporters gave on Fox News – and continued again Friday morning. 

The president’s admission he ‘lightly looked’ at building in Moscow comes in contrast to his years of denial he had done business with Russia.

‘I have nothing to do with Russia. I never did,’ Trump told CNBC in a July interview.  

However, the president appeared more focused on the summit when he met with Macri in the Salón Blanco, a massive, ornate room with gilded features, a massive chandelier and cathedral ceilings, in the Casa Rosada, the presidential headquarters here.

The two presidents stood side by side, smiling and chatting.

Trump noted his once did business with President Macri’s father and lavished praise on the son.

‘I have been friends with Mauricio for a long time,’ the president said. ‘People wouldn’t know that he was a very young man, a very handsome man.’

‘We knew each other very well and I actually did business with his father,’ he added.

Trump said the two leaders had a lot to talk about – including trade and military purchases. 

‘We’re going to be talking about lots of good things for Argentina and for the United States including trade, including military purchases and other things,’ he said.

‘We have a lot to talk about – a little bit about old times but about 95 percent old times.’ 

He added to President Marci: ‘You’re my friend a long time and you’re doing an excellent job.’

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump

Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr.

Adding to the pressure are reports that name Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. as being more involved in looking at the Trump Tower Moscow project than previously revealed

The president didn't mention the Cohen crisis in his first G20 meeting but he tweeted about it before he talked with President Macri

The president didn't mention the Cohen crisis in his first G20 meeting but he tweeted about it before he talked with President Macri

The president didn’t mention the Cohen crisis in his first G20 meeting but he tweeted about it before he talked with President Macri

Trump has been in a defense posture since Cohen’s latest plea deal was revealed on Thursday.

Adding to the pressure are reports that name his daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. as being more involved in looking at the Trump Tower Moscow project than previously revealed. 

Ivanka Trump reportedly recommended the architect for the failed Trump Tower Moscow project in an email to Cohen. 

Cohen’s plea deal also could put Donald Trump Jr. back in the firing line as it appears to contradict testimony given by the eldest Trump son. 

Trump Jr. testified in September 2017 that he was ‘peripherally aware of’ but ‘not involved’ in plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

But Cohen’s plea deal revealed he had consulted about the deal with President Trump’s family members, including Trump Jr. and Ivanka. 

With Mueller’s Russia probe appearing to gather steam and House Democrats eager to wield subpoena power when they take over in January, pressures on the White House are intensifying. 

The Trump Tower project in Moscow never got off the ground, but the Trump Organization didn’t shelve it until June 2016, long after the future president had locked up the GOP’s White House nomination. 

 The president arrived in Argentina Thursday night as the Cohen crisis mounted back home

 The president arrived in Argentina Thursday night as the Cohen crisis mounted back home

 The president arrived in Argentina Thursday night as the Cohen crisis mounted back home

Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, is in Argentina for two days for the G20 summit 

Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, is in Argentina for two days for the G20 summit 

Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, is in Argentina for two days for the G20 summit 

Trump was combative on Thursday before he left the White House, slamming his former fixer as a liar and said Cohen is ‘making up a story’ and ‘lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence.’

‘He’s a weak person and not a very smart person,’ Trump told reporters, contending that ‘he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story.’

An hour after Cohen emerged from a Manhattan courthouse, Trump canceled a planned one-on-one meeting with Russian Vladimir Putin that was to have occurred during this week’s G20 summit in Argentina. The White House said the move was a reaction to the Russian navy firing on and seizing three of Ukraine’s ships in contested waters. 

Two other meetings with world leaders were down graded in status to ‘pull-asides.’ 

One detail in the Cohen case could be especially damaging to the president: Mueller’s team charged that Cohen had promised Trump would visit Moscow personally to pitch the building project, but not until after the 2016 Republican National Convention when he would have the security of being the GOP’s presidential nominee.

Cohen admitted falsely telling House and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators earlier this year that the Moscow project didn’t extend past January 2016.  

Prosecutors wrote in a charging document that Cohen lied in order to ‘minimize links’ between Trump and his proposal, and to ‘give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended in early 2016 before ‘the Iowa caucus and the very first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.’

Trump said before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House that even if Cohen were telling the truth, ‘it doesn’t matter. Because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business.’ 

He said ‘I’m not worried at all’ about the implications of Cohen’s actions, and boasted that he would have resumed work on the Moscow undertaking if he had lost the election to Hillary Clinton. 

Trump said that even if Cohen were telling the truth, 'it doesn't matter. Because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business'

Trump said that even if Cohen were telling the truth, 'it doesn't matter. Because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business'

Trump said that even if Cohen were telling the truth, ‘it doesn’t matter. Because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business’

Cohen, seen smiling as he was driven away from court, faces sentencing on Dec. 12 for his guilty pleas, including one involving a hush-money payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels at President Trump's directio

Cohen, seen smiling as he was driven away from court, faces sentencing on Dec. 12 for his guilty pleas, including one involving a hush-money payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels at President Trump's directio

Cohen, seen smiling as he was driven away from court, faces sentencing on Dec. 12 for his guilty pleas, including one involving a hush-money payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels at President Trump’s direction

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told The New York Times on Thursday that when the president supplied Mueller with written answers to his questions a week ago, he documented his conversations with Cohen about the Moscow project. 

‘The president said there was a proposal, it was discussed with Cohen, there was a non-binding letter of intent and it didn’t go beyond that,’ Giuliani said.  

Giuliani also fumed about the new charge Thursday and brought up the G20 summit.

‘It is hardly coincidental that the Special Counsel once again files a charge just as the President is leaving for a meeting with world leaders at the G20 Summit in Argentina,’ Giuliani wrote. ‘The Special Counsel did the very same thing as the president was leaving for a world summit in Helsinki. With regard to the hotel proposal in Moscow, the President has been completely open and transparent,’ he added. 

Mueller’s team indicted 12 Russians for hacking on the eve of Trump’s Helsinki summit.  

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who will take over the reins of the House Intelligence Committee in January, blasted Cohen and Trump on Twitter.

‘To help Trump, Cohen lied to Congress about Trump’s business interests in Russia. The President’s own denials during the campaign were also false or misleading, and underscore the importance of investigating any financial entanglement between Trump and Russia,’ Schiff wrote.  

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Cohen with lying to Congress about a plan to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Cohen with lying to Congress about a plan to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Cohen with lying to Congress about a plan to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow

Trump also abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was to occur at the G20 summit kicking off Friday in Argentina

Trump also abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was to occur at the G20 summit kicking off Friday in Argentina

Trump also abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was to occur at the G20 summit kicking off Friday in Argentina

Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Cohen’s plea ‘shows that the Trump family did have business dealings in Russia despite President Trump’s repeated statements to the contrary.’

‘It raises serious questions about the president’s relationship with Russia and whether he and his family have been honest,’ she said in a statement. 

According to the government’s criminal indictment, known as an ‘information,’ Cohen made false statements in writing to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the length of discussions about the project, and about his related conversations with Trump Organization figures.

His false statements included claiming that the deal wasn’t discussed extensively, that he never agreed to travel to Russia to promote it and ‘never considered’ asking Trump to travel there, and that he didn’t recall a Russian government response.

The information says Cohen ‘knowingly and deliberately’ lied.

‘In truth and in fact, and as Cohen well knew, Cohen’s representations about the Moscow Project he made’ to Congress were ‘false and misleading,’ according to prosecutors. 

 

Michael Cohen, former lawyer to President Donald Trump, was in federal court on Thursday to enter his latest guilty plea

Cohen discussed the project with the future president ‘on more than the three occasions,’ briefed Trump and his family members about it, and had multiple discussions with an unnamed person about Trump making a Moscow visit.

That unnamed individual is likely project backer Felix Sater.

In one May 4, 2016 email, Sater wrote that he ‘had a chat with Moscow’ about the real estate venture and said the question was whether Trump would go ‘before or after the [Republican] convention’ for a meeting between the ‘big guys.’

Cohen responded that he would go ‘before Cleveland,’ the site of the Republican National Convention, and that Trump would take a trip ‘once he becomes the nominee after the convention.’

A May 5 email includes an invitation from Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, inviting Cohen to St. Petersburg for an introduction to either the president or prime minister of Russia.

Cohen’s courtroom comeuppance on Thursday came after he gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team a reported 70 hours of interviews.

They pressed him on Trump’s real estate business ties in Russia, possible discussions with the president about pardons, and obstruction of justice.

Cohen appeared outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan with his lawyer Guy Petrillo, who told reporters: ‘Mr. Cohen has cooperated. Mr. Cohen will continue to cooperate. Sentencing is set for December 12.’

He is expected to be sentenced to between four and five years in prison in December for his first federal case. It’s unclear if the new guilty plea will involve more jail time.

Cohen has publicly turned against President Trump since the FBI raided his home and offices in April.

 

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