Cohen gives documents about Moscow project to lawmakers

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By Kristen Welker

Michael Cohen gave lawmakers documents Wednesday that show edits to the false written statements he made to Congress in 2017 about talks on a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The former longtime lawyer for President Donald Trump provided the documents to the House Intelligence Committee with the intention of supporting his public testimony before Congress last week, in which he said members of Trump’s legal team made changes to his statements on the Moscow real estate talks, the source said. At the time Cohen made the false statements to lawmakers, he and the president’s legal team had a joint defense agreement.

Jay Sekulow was among the lawyers who reviewed his statements to lawmakers in 2017 and made changes to it, Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last week.

"There were changes made, additions — Jay Sekulow, for one," Cohen told the committee. "There were several changes that were made, including how we were going to handle that message, which was — the message of course being the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive."

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, saying he did so to align with Trump's preferred narrative. He also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges and is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.

In response to Cohen's testimony last week, Sekulow denied making any changes to Cohen's previous statements to Congress on the Moscow project talks.

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“Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false,” Sekulow said.

When asked for comment on the documents Cohen has now provided lawmakers, he told NBC News, “We stand by our statement last week.”

NBC News has not reviewed the documents Cohen gave the House Intelligence Committee, which were first reported by CNN. It is unclear what the documents indicate was changed in Cohen's previous statements about the proposed Moscow project.

Cohen admitted last year to lying to lawmakers when he said the talks on the real estate project ended in early 2016; in fact, those discussions continued into that June, after Trump had become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

In July of 2016, then-candidate Trump, asked specifically about his financial interests in Russia, said, "I will tell you, right now, zero, I have nothing to do with Russia, yes?"

Cohen said on leaving the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that he thought lawmakers were satisfied with his responses and he planned to continue to cooperate.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California said afterward that Cohen “answered every question that was put to him” and added that lawmakers might get more documents from him.

Asked about Cohen's closed-door testimony Wednesday, the White House referred to press secretary Sarah Sanders' previous statement about his appearances last week.

“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements," Sanders said in her previous statement. She added, "It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”

Wednesday was Cohen's a fourth day of testimony to Congress as Democrats pursue multiple investigations into Trump's White House, businesses and presidential campaign.

Cohen was interviewed behind closed doors by both the Senate and House Intelligence Committees last week, in addition to his public appearance before the House Oversight Committee. Schiff said after that testimony that lawmakers asked Cohen to bring additional documents for his second day of interviews.

Associated Press and Mike Memoli contributed.