The House Democrats preparing to lead their own Russia probes appear to be turning their attention from possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to potential Russian leverage over the president. The turning point came last week when Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Organization’s dealings in Russia during the election.
Cohen acknowledged in a criminal information filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he had sought support from the Kremlin for a Trump Tower in Moscow and had spoken at length to a Russian government official.
“There is now a witness who confirms that in the same way [convicted former National-Security Adviser] Michael Flynn was compromised, the president and his business are compromised,” Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat poised to take over the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
“Flynn was compromised because he was saying things publicly that were not true about discussions with the Russians over sanctions,” Schiff explained. “And now we have Michael Cohen saying that what the president was saying, what Michael Cohen was saying and others were saying about when this business deal ended was not true. And what’s 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. That is a real problem. It means that the compromise is far broader than we thought.”