US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted he lied about a Trump property deal in Russia during the 2016 election.
Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He said he did so out of loyalty to Mr Trump.
Mr Trump said his former right-hand man was “lying” to prosecutors in the hope of receiving a reduced sentence.
A special counsel is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether Mr Trump colluded with it.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 election by handling hush money for Mr Trump’s alleged lovers.
What happened in court?
Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.
He said at the hearing that he had submitted a false written statement about a Trump Organization plan to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital.
“I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1,” Cohen said in court.
He has previously identified “individual 1” as Mr Trump.
Cohen was interviewed in October last year behind closed doors by lawmakers conducting their own investigation into whether Mr Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to sway the US election two years ago.
According to the criminal complaint, he told the Senate and House intelligence committees that talks over the Moscow project had lasted from September 2015 until January 2016, while Mr Trump was running for the White House.
But the criminal complaint says that “as Cohen well knew”, negotiations over the Moscow project continued until June 2016.
Cohen also told lawmakers he had had limited contact with Mr Trump about the project, when in fact it had been “more extensive”.
Prosecutors said Cohen had tried to give a false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Republican presidential campaign properly began in 2016.