President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told federal investigators that a lawyer from Trump’s legal team encouraged him to hold back details from Congress in 2017 about “more communications with Russia” on the Trump Tower Moscow project, including correspondence with a “woman from the Kremlin,” according to newly released documents from the Mueller investigation.
In summaries of interviews conducted during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and obtained by BuzzFeed News, Cohen said he spoke to Jay Sekulow on Aug. 27, 2017—one day before he turned over a letter to Congress that said the Trump Tower Moscow deal came to an end shortly before Trump ran in the Republican presidential primaries.
Cohen, who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress, has previously claimed Sekulow urged him to tell lawmakers Trump Tower Moscow negotiations ended months earlier than they actually had, and that Sekulow had edited his written testimony to Congress when he and Trump were under a joint-defense agreement in the Mueller probe. Sekulow has denied the claims.
According to the newly released transcripts, Cohen said Sekulow more or less shut him down when he offered more information on contacts with Russia regarding Trump Tower Moscow.
“Cohen said there were more communications with Russia and more communications with Trump than were reflected” in the written testimony to lawmakers, according to the memo. He said he specifically recalled telling Trump he had spoken to a “woman from the Kremlin who asked specific and great questions about Trump Tower Moscow.” He also said he told Trump that he was “waiting to hear back from them.”
Sekulow responded that it was “not necessary to elaborate or include those details because the transaction did not take place,” the memo reads. Sekulow kept pushing him, according to Cohen, urging him to “stay on message and not over elaborate.” He also told him he would be “protected” if he didn't go “rogue.”
Sekulow is also said to have told Cohen that it was “time to move on” and to avoid contradicting the president.
“Sekulow told Cohen ‘his client,’ referring to Trump, wanted Cohen to cooperate and appreciated him,” the memo states.
Cohen also told investigators he inquired with Sekulow about pardons after the FBI raided his home and office. He said he been “a loyal lawyer and servant” who was “all of the sudden subject to search and seizure,” and wanted to know “what was in it for him.”