Two top Democrats who will head up probes into the Trump administration in the House next year pointed to Michael Cohen’s admission that he lied about the then-presidential candidate’s business deals in Moscow as proof that Russia had “leverage” on the president.
“The fact that he was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia, and that the Kremlin knew he was lying, gave the Kremlin a hold over him. And one question we have now is does the Kremlin still have a hold over him because of other lies they know about,” Rep. Jerry Nadler said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Nadler, who will take over as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the chamber in January, questioned why Trump has been so “obsequious” to Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the 2016 election and his time as president.
“And it may be that it’s because the Kremlin has leverage over the president, which is a terrible thing if true,” he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, who will become the head of the House Intelligence Committee, said the admission by Cohen – Trump’s former lawyer – that he lied to Congress about negotiations over building a Trump tower in Moscow during the GOP presidential primary suggests the president was compromised.
“And once more, the Russians knew it wasn’t true, that at the same time that Donald Trump was the presumptive nominee of the GOP, and arguing in favor of doing away with sanctions, he was working on a deal that would require doing away with sanctions for him to make money in Russia,” the California Democrat said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“That is a real problem, it means that the compromise is far broader than we thought,” he continued.
He said Russia’s knowledge that Cohen and Trump were lying raises the same national security concerns that former National Security adviser Michael Flynn’s lying about his meetings with a Russian official during the campaign did.
“There is now a witness who confirms that in the same way Michael Flynn was compromised, that the president and his business are compromised,” Schiff said. “Flynn was compromised because he was saying things – things publicly that were not true about discussions with the Russians over sanctions.”
Cohen pleaded guilty last week of telling congressional panels that Trump had ended talks about a Trump tower in Moscow in February 2016 – before the critical Iowa presidential caucuses.