Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s plea deal with President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen further shows that the Trump campaign did not collude with Moscow during the 2016 presidential election, according to congressional investigators and former prosecutors.
Cohen pled guilty last week to making false statements in 2017 to congressional investigators about the Trump Organization’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump floated the projects months longer than Cohen testified under oath.
The superseding indictment and guilty plea agreement suggest that Mueller is using talks of building a Trump hotel in Moscow, in an effort to connect Trump to Russia. However, congressional investigators told AF-MG.com that it appears that Mueller withheld details from the court that would exonerate the President. They cite a fuller account of Cohen’s emails and text messages – which they’ve seen in addition to the classified transcripts of closed-door testimony given by an associate of Cohen.
In the statement of criminal information, filed by Mueller against Cohen, Mueller says that Cohen attempted to email Russian President Putin twice in Jan. of 2016. However, Mueller, who personally signed the legal document, omitted the fact that Cohen didn’t have any direct contacts in Moscow, and was forced to send emails to a general press mailbox. Sources told AF-MG.com that the emails they’ve seen show that those emails undercut the claim of a “back channel,” and Mueller’s case of collusion.
Mueller did not challenge Cohen’s assertion that he “ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”
One source tells AF-MG.com that “Although Cohen may have lied to Congress about the dates, it’s clear from personal messages he sent in 2015 and 2016, that the Trump Organization didn’t have formal lines of communication set up with Putin’s office or the Kremlin during the campaign. There was no secret ‘back channel.'”
“So as far as collusion goes, the project is actually more exculpatory than incriminating for Trump and his campaign,” the source added. “Neither Cohen nor Trump traveled to Moscow in support of the deal, as Sater had urged. No meetings with Russian government officials occured.”
Sater, a Russian immigrant with a shady past, representing the Bayrock Group and not the Trump Organization, came up with the tower proposal in 2015. His pitch had more to do with branding than real estate: Trump would lend his name to the project and share in the profits, but not actually construct it or take on debt for it.
The project never got anywhere because Sater didn’t have the pull with Putin he claimed to have.
Emails and texts show that Sater could only offer Cohen access to one of his friends, who was an acquaintance of another oligarch who was partners in a real estate development with a friend of Putin.
Talks broke off in mid 2016. Trump publicly stated such over seven months later, days before his inauguration, that his real estate empire has never had any real estate holdings in Russia. Nothing in Mueller’s latest filings dispute that.
Sater, who Cohen described as a “salesman,” testified to the House intelligence committee in 2017 that his communications with Cohen about putting Trump and Putin on a stage for a “ribbon-cutting” for a Trump Tower in Moscow were “mere puffery” attempted to promote the project and get it going.
According to his still-unreleased testimony, Sater swore none of those communications involved taking any action to influence the 2016 presidential election. None of the emails and texts between Sater and Cohen mention Russian attempts to hack Democrats’ campaign emails or influence the election.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said the criminal information statement of offense against Cohen reflects political bias on the part of the Special Counsel. “Robert Mueller appears more interested in trying to draw connections to Russia than highlighting exculpatory evidence,” Fitton said in a statement.
“Mueller seems desperate to confuse Americans by conflating the cancelled and legitimate Russia business venture with the Russia collusion theory he was actually hired to investigate,” he added. “This is a transparent attempt to try to embarrass the president.”
“The plea deal is weak tea and I suspect, given Mueller’s track record, that there’s even less here than meets the eye.”
Former federal prosecutors say Mueller’s filing does not remotely incriminate Trump in alleged Russia collusion. “It doesn’t implicate President Trump in any way,” said former independent counsel Solomon Wisenberg, with Nelson Mullins LLP in Washington, D.C. “The reality is, this is a nothing-burger.”
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz agreed, arguing on Fox News that Mueller is resorting to false-statement prosecutions instead of prosecutions related to his mandate.
“We are seeing many of these cases being built around false statements,” said Dershowitz.
Not in the criminal information document is any corroboration of the allegation made in the Clinton-campaign, DNC, and Fusion GPS funded “Steele Dossier,” that Cohen went to Prague to meet with Russian officials in August of 2016 to arrange “deniable cash payments to hackers who worked in Europe under Moscow’s direction against the Clinton campaign.”
Cohen has repeatedly denied the allegation and offered up his passport to prove “I have never been to Prague in my life.”