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12 audio files sent to prosecutors in Michael Cohen probe

Report claims Trump ordered Cohen to lie to Congress about Russia tower talks

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LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) – President Donald Trump instructed longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about talks for a Trump Tower site in Moscow, according to a report published by BuzzFeed.

The report, published Thursday night, cites two unnamed federal law enforcement officials involved in a related investigation.

According to the report, Trump backed a Cohen-arranged meeting with Russian president Vladmir Putin during the 2016 campaign to get tower negotiations up and running.

Appearing on NBC News as the story broke, Rep. Eric Swallwell (D-Calif.) said, “I view this as powerful evidence of collusion.”

In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, claiming admitting to making false statements about the project in 2017 to Senate and House intelligence committees, which at the time were investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

According to the article, “The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”

Trump’s counsel, Rudy Giuliani responded to the report calling Cohen’s honesty into question. He told The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker: “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Asked about the report, Cohen's adviser, Lanny Davis, told USA Today's Christal Hayes: “Out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation, Mr. Cohen declined to respond to the questions asked by the reporters and so [do] I.”

Trump has repeatedly and vehemently denied working for Russia against U.S. interests, as recently as Monday saying, "I never worked for Russia."

Earlier Thursday, Cohen acknowledged Thursday that he paid a technology company to rig Trump's standing in two online polls before the presidential campaign.

Michael Cohen tweeted that "what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of" Trump.

"I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it," he added.

Cohen was responding to an article in The Wall Street Journal that said Cohen stiffed the owner of the technology company out of tens of thousands of dollars he promised for work that included using a computer script to enter fake votes for Trump in a 2014 CNBC poll asking people to identify top business leaders and a 2015 poll of potential presidential candidates.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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