US President Donald Trump ordered his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to new report, prompting calls for Trump’s resignation or impeachment.
After Trump won the election, he personally directed Cohen to lie to US lawmakers about their plan to continue building a Trump Tower in Russia during the 2016 US presidential campaign, the BuzzFeed news website reported Thursday.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about the tower project. He received a three-year sentence in December and is set to start serving it in March.
Directing or encouraging someone to lie under oath is a crime under US law known as subornation of perjury.
While the US Justice Department has previously concluded that a sitting American president cannot be charged while in office, such an allegation, if found true, could launch impeachment proceedings in Congress.
Former US attorney general Eric Holder said in a tweet on Friday that if the report is true, Congress should jump start impeachment proceedings.
“If true – and proof must be examined – Congress must begin impeachment proceedings and Barr must refer, at a minimum, the relevant portions of material discovered by Mueller. This is a potential inflection point,” he said.
Other Democratic lawmakers took advantage of the report, with some calling for the Republican president’s impeachment.
“If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, tweeted Thursday evening.
US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff pledged Friday to investigate the report, calling the allegations against Trump “the most serious to date.”
The new report comes amid an ongoing federal investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller about alleged collusion between Trump’s election campaign and Russia to influence US voters in Trump’s favor.
US intelligence agencies say Moscow interfered in US politics in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump and harm his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump repeatedly has denied collusion with Russia and slammed federal investigation as a “witch hunt.” Russia also has rejected any cooperation with Trump’s campaign.
Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Cohen acknowledged that he paid a technology company to manipulate online polling data in favor of Trump before the 2016 elections.
The newspaper said Cohen had paid the data firm RedFinch Solutions to manipulate two public opinion polls “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” Trump.
Cohen worked for Trump from 2006 until May 2018 as his self-proclaimed fixer, and once said he would take a bullet for Trump. But the relationship has since publicly soured, with the president calling Cohen a “rat.”