Washington • Democrats in Congress vowed Friday to aggressively investigate a new report that President Trump personally directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the president’s push for a Moscow real estate project ahead of the 2016 election.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his panel would "get to the bottom" of the allegations in a Thursday night report from BuzzFeed News that have caused an uproar among congressional Democrats.
"We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction," Nadler said in a tweet. "Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee's job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work."
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also said that his panel would do "what's necessary to find out if it's true" that Trump had directed Cohen, a longtime loyalist and fixer, to lie to Congress about plans for a massive Trump Tower in Moscow.
"The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date," Schiff said in a late-night tweet Thursday shortly after the BuzzFeed story posted.
The BuzzFeed report cited two unnamed federal law enforcement officials who say Cohen acknowledged in interviews with the office of special counsel Robert Mueller that the president directed him to deceive Congress about key facts linking Trump to the proposed deal in Russia. Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying under oath about those details.
The Washington Post has not independently verified the report, on which congressional Republicans have largely remained silent.
In his first public comments on the report, Trump went on Twitter on Friday morning to quote a Fox News reporter, Kevin Corke, as saying, "Don't forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars...."
"Lying to reduce his jail time!" Trump added in his own words.
The Journal story to which Trump referred reported that Cohen had hired a technology company to help rig online polls in Trump's favor ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The report said that Cohen sought a larger reimbursement from Trump and his company than what he paid the technology company.
In a statement Thursday night, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani also sought to discredit Cohen, saying: "If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge."
The Washington Post’s Tim Elfrink contributed to this report.