p. 153 – 156

Potential Obstructive Act: “We gathered evidence of the President’s conduct related to Cohen on two issues: (i) whether the President or others aided or participated in Cohen’s false statements to Congress, and (ii) whether the President took actions that would have the natural tendency to prevent Cohen from providing truthful information to the government.”

First, with regard to Cohen’s false statements to Congress, while there is evidence, described below, that the President knew Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen ‘s false testimony…”

“Cohen said that his statements to Congress followed a ‘party line’ that developed within the campaign to align with the President’s public statements distancing the President from Russia…But Cohen said that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen’s testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false, and the President did not direct him to provide false testimony. Cohen also said he did not tell the President about the specifics of his planned testimony. During the time when his statement to Congress was being drafted and circulated to members of the JOA, Cohen did not speak directly to the President about the statement, but rather communicated with the President’s personal counsel-Cohen said that there were more communications with Russia and more communications with candidate Trump than the statement reflected. Cohen recalled expressing some concern at that time. According to Cohen, the President’s personal counsel-who did not have first-hand knowledge of the project responded by saying that there was no need to muddy the water, that it was unnecessary to include those details because the project did not take place, and that Cohen should keep his statement short and tight, not elaborate, stay on message, and not contradict the President.”

“The President’s personal counsel declined to provide us with his account of his conversations with Cohen, and there is no evidence available to us that indicates that the President was aware of the information Cohen provided to the President’s personal counsel. The President’s conversations with his personal counsel were presumptively protected by attorney-client privilege, and we did not seek to obtain the contents of any such communications. The absence of evidence about the President and his counsel’s conversations about the drafting of Cohen ‘s statement precludes us from assessing what, if any, role the President played.”

“Second, we considered whether the President took actions that would have the natural tendency to prevent Cohen from providing truthful information to criminal investigators or to Congress.”

“President publicly and privately urged Cohen to stay on message and not ‘flip.’ Cohen recalled the President’s personal counsel telling him that he would be protected so long as he did not go ‘rogue.'”

“Through the President’s personal counsel, the President also had previously told Cohen ‘thanks for what you do’ after Cohen provided information to the media about payments to women that, according to Cohen, both Cohen and the President knew was false.”

Nexus to Official Proceeding: “The President’s relevant conduct towards Cohen occurred when the President knew the Special Counsel’s Office, Congress, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York were investigating Cohen’s conduct. The President acknowledged through his public statements and tweets that Cohen potentially could cooperate with the government investigations.”

Intent: “In analyzing the President’s intent in his actions towards Cohen as a potential witness, there is evidence that could support the inference that the President intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen’s information would shed adverse light on the President’s campaign-period conduct and statements.”

“Cohen’s false congressional testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project was designed to minimize connections between the President and Russia and to help limit the congressional and DOJ Russia investigations -a goal that was in the President’s interest, as reflected by the President’s own statements. During and after the campaign, the President made repeated statements that he had ‘no business’ in Russia and said that there were ‘no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away.’ As Cohen knew, and as he recalled communicating to the President during the campaign, Cohen ‘s pursuit of the Trump Tower Moscow project cast doubt on the accuracy or completeness of these statements.”

“In connection with his guilty plea, Cohen admitted that he had multiple conversations with candidate Trump to give him status updates about the Trump Tower Moscow project, that the conversations continued through at least June 2016, and that he discussed with Trump possible travel to Russia to pursue the project. The conversations were not off-hand, according to Cohen, because the project had the potential to be so lucrative. In addition, text messages to and from Cohen and other records further establish that Cohen’s efforts to advance the project did not end in January 2016 and that in May and June 2016, Cohen was considering the timing for possible trips to Russia by him and Trump in connection with the project. The evidence could support an inference that the President was aware of these facts at the time of Cohen’s false statements to Congress. Cohen discussed the project with the President in early 2017 following media inquiries. Cohen recalled that on September 20, 2017, the day after he released to the public his opening remarks to Congress- which said the project ‘was terminated in January of 2016’-the President’s personal counsel told him the President was pleased with what Cohen had said about Trump Tower Moscow. And after Cohen’s guilty plea, the President told reporters that he had ultimately decided not to do the project, which supports the inference that he remained aware of his own involvement in the project and the period during the Campaign in which the project was being pursued.”

“The President’s public remarks following Cohen’s guilty plea also suggest that the President may have been concerned about what Cohen told investigators about the Trump Tower Moscow project.”

“The President’s concern about Cohen cooperating may have been directed at the Southern District of New York investigation into other aspects of the President’s dealings with Cohen rather than an investigation of Trump Tower Moscow.”

“There also is some evidence that the President’s concern about Cohen cooperating was based on the President’s stated belief that Cohen would provide false testimony against the President in an attempt to obtain a lesser sentence for his unrelated criminal conduct.”

“Finally, the President’s statements insinuating that members of Cohen ‘s family committed crimes after Cohen began cooperating with the government could be viewed as an effort to retaliate against Cohen and chill further testimony adverse to the President by Cohen or others.”

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