Menacing Mueller probe beginning to rattle Trump

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller front the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election leaves the Capitol building after meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill

The tower idea came back yet again in October 2015, when Andrey Rozov, an obscure Russian real estate developer, signed a letter of intent sent by Cohen to advance the construction of a Trump World Tower that would feature 250 luxury condos, no fewer than 15 floors of hotel rooms, commercial and office space, a fitness center and an Ivanka Trump spa.

In new charges unveiled Thursday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former top Trump aide Michael Cohen admitted direct communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin's office on behalf of Trump's business through the first half of 2016. Cohen even asked Trump about his potentially going there and "asked a senior campaign official about potential business travel to Russia".

The Cohen case was filed in NY a week after Trump and his lawyers provided Mueller with responses to written questions and is the first new charge filed by the special counsel since the appointment of Matthew Whitaker, who has spoken critically about the investigation, as acting attorney general with oversight of the probe.

"These developments make clear that my colleagues and I must step in and provide accountability", said Nadler (D-NY).

Trump denied that Cohen is a threat to his presidency when asked by CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.

Senior Democrats on the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees believe Donald Trump junior may have given false evidence when testifying about a now famous Trump Tower meeting with Russians in June 2016.

On November 29, the Washington Post reported that Mueller was taking a close look at a series of nighttime phone conversations between Stone and Trump during the 2016 presidential race. He said they were "very brave" for resisting Mueller's investigation. I was focused on running for president.

In his statement, he said that he worked on the real estate proposal with Felix Sater, a Russia-born associate who he said claimed to have deep connections in Moscow.

What has he told Mr Mueller about that fateful Trump Tower meeting in which members of the Trump campaign team met Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton?

More news: USA police fire tear gas at migrants trying to cross from Mexico

Sater and Cohen continued to email about the foundering project well into June 2016, soon after a much-scrutinized meeting at Trump Tower in NY between Trump's son, Don Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and several Russian attendees, purportedly to discuss the possibility of "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was a "counterintelligence imperative" for its members, in the new Congress, to continue to probe the Trump Organization's financial links to Russian Federation.

"Michael Cohen is lying and he's trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me", the president said. "I said I would confirm and revert".

On Monday Mueller accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating a cooperation deal by lying to investigators.

The document does not identify Individual 2, but people familiar with the investigation said it is Sater.

Thursday's charges were handled by Mueller, not the federal prosecutors in NY who handled Cohen's previous guilty plea in August to other federal charges involving his taxi businesses, bank fraud and his campaign work for Trump.

"Moscow is going to be huge", Trump told Playboy magazine in a 1997 interview.

"You know this flipping stuff is awful", Trump, who has repeatedly called for Mueller's "witch hunt" led by "angry Democrats" to come to an end, told the Post.

In a press scrum outside court moments after the hearing, Cohen said nothing to reporters. He previously worked in the Canberra press gallery and recently finished a Masters of Journalism at Columbia University in NY.

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