The question of whether President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 election is important. But it’s not the only important question in the Russia investigation, as revelations Thursday from special counsel Robert Mueller III make clear. The disclosures suggest Trump deceived voters about his business aspirations in Russia even as he asked for their votes during the primaries of 2016. That is not a minor transgression.
Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer, admitted in court Thursday that he lied to Congress about Trump’s effort to develop a marquee building in Moscow. Cohen had said previously that the effort ended before the 2016 Iowa caucuses. In fact, according to the special counsel’s documents, it continued into June 2016, when Trump was the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Cohen was apparently in touch with Russians and briefing Trump on the status of the Moscow project. Cohen told a Manhattan judge Thursday that he lied about the Moscow planning to help Trump’s political messaging. The president responded by lashing out at Cohen and saying that his former lawyer is now lying. Trump apparently didn’t know or didn’t care that the special counsel had released e-mail evidence bolstering Cohen’s current position. Perhaps sensing that no reasonable person would believe him, Trump simultaneously maintained that it would not have been a problem if he had pursued the Moscow project during the campaign.
That was not Trump’s attitude before, when he flatly denied Russia connections during a campaign in which he seemed suspiciously fond of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Trump clearly meant to give the impression that Moscow was irrelevant to his personal interests.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE WASHINGTON POST