Donald Trump took to Twitter earlier this year to tell Americans to read a report written by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee he said proved his innocence in the Russia probe.
Republicans had been promoting the memo for days, saying its release would finally reveal the truth of the Russia investigation and unveil a political scandal they claimed would eclipse Watergate. Instead, the recent conviction of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen is shedding new light on that report and creating very different comparisons to Watergate — ones that Trump likely won’t like.
As the Washington Post reported, Cohen’s plea deal revealed that he had been lying about Donald Trump’s contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign and a proposed Trump Tower Moscow. Both Cohen and Trump said any plans for the deal were scrapped in early January, 2016, before the Iowa caucuses started, but Cohen now revealed that negotiations stretched throughout the campaign, all while Trump was saying he had no ties to Russia and no deals there.
The Republican report had concluded that there was no link between Trump and his associates and the Russians who were trying to influence the 2016 election. As the Washington Post reported, the memo leaned heavily on Cohen’s false testimony to Congress.
“Cohen’s false statements go largely unchallenged in the report. After Cohen wrote in a letter to the Senate and House Intelligence committees that the attempt to establish a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, the Republicans stated in their report that ‘it appears. . . the project failed’ at that time. It is now known those efforts continued for many more months.”
Cohen also revealed that he had kept Trump abreast on the progress of the Trump Tower Moscow project, which seems to show that Trump knowingly pushed lies to the American public in the Republican House report in the interest of protecting himself.
Just a reminder that one of the articles of impeachment against Nixon included Obstruction of Justice by corruptly soliciting pardons and clemency. https://t.co/apDkaSJujq— Aaron Astor (@AstorAaron) December 1, 2018
Just think: @POTUS repeatedly urged Americans to read and believe the House GOP Intelligence Committee report, even though he knew the section concerning Trump Tower Moscow was false, as it was based on Cohen's testimony— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) November 30, 2018
That could run against a dangerous precedent. As Quartz noted, Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment included a charge that he knowingly lied to the American public as he tried to hide his role in the Watergate coverup. The articles accused Nixon of “making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” If Cohen’s testimony is true, Donald Trump appears to have done the same thing in promoting the Republican memo based on Cohen’s false statements. Whether the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to impeach Trump still remains to be seen.