President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is headed for a three-year prison sentence, in part because he lied to Congress about Trump's role in the infamous Trump Tower Moscow project. And according to a new report in Vanity Fair, Ivanka Trump's lawyer wanted Cohen to alter his testimony about Ivanka in order to minimize her involvement in the project as well.
Bustle has reached out to Ivanka's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, for comment.
In 2017, while still representing Trump, Cohen testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about a scrapped plan to build a Trump-branded hotel in Moscow. Cohen — who has since admitted in federal court that he lied during this testimony — told Congress that negotiations on the project ended by January 2016, but BuzzFeed News reported that negotiations on the Trump Tower Moscow project actually continued into June. Cohen later confirmed this as well during his February 2019 testimony to Congress.
If true, this would mean that Trump's team was continuing to pursue a foreign real estate project even after Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States. BuzzFeed News also reported that Trump's team discussed giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in the tower, although it's unclear if Trump himself was aware of these talks. Trump has defended his pursuit of the Moscow project.
In November, he told reporters, “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?”
Vanity Fair reports that, in the lead-up to Cohen's 2017 testimony, Ivanka's team sought to modify Cohen's testimony in order to minimize her involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. According to the outlet, this took the form of an email exchange between Cohen and his then-attorney, Stephen Ryan, which Vanity Fair reporter Emily Jane Fox says she reviewed.
Ivanka claimed in early 2019 that she knew "literally almost nothing" about the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, the Associated Press reported. But in his February 2019 testimony to Congress, Cohen said that he briefed the Trumps, including Ivanka, "approximately 10" times about the project. BuzzFeed News reported that during the campaign, Ivanka introduced Cohen to a Russian athlete who, in turn, offered to introduce Trump to Putin in order to facilitate construction of the Trump Tower Moscow project.
In the exchange, Ryan told Cohen that Lowell, Ivanka's attorney, had asked him to "affirmatively address" several points in Cohen's testimony to Congress, according to Vanity Fair. Attached was a draft that contained several specific edits that Lowell wanted Ryan to make, all of which centered on Ivanka's role in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, according to Vanity Fair.
Lowell reportedly wanted Cohen's testimony to make clear that Ivanka "was not involved with the back and forths" between Cohen and Felix Sater, a Russian-born criminal and Trump ally who played a central role in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. Lowell also asked that Cohen's testimony clarify that Ivanka "was not in any meetings or calls with people putting it together (esp. from that country)," and that "she did not know [Sater] was involved in the possible project in that country," Vanity Fair reports. Finally, Lowell said that "maybe," Cohen should tell Congress that Ivanka herself was skeptical about Sater, according to the outlet.
In response, Ryan told Lowell that he was "developing" Cohen's testimony and, furthermore, that Cohen "will want me to do anything your client asks that is accurate, which is not really an issue." Ryan added, however, that "it may be perceived as awkward to go as specific as your requests," according to Vanity Fair. Ultimately, Cohen's 2017 testimony did not incorporate all of Lowell's suggested edits.
Shortly after Cohen's 2019 testimony to Congress, Democratic lawmakers indicated that they want to bring Ivanka in for questioning.