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Trump lawyer denies any ties to Russian election meddling

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen said on Tuesday, September 19, he had no ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election and saw "not a hint" that Trump himself was involved.

In a statement before closed-door questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Cohen said a British intelligence agent's dossier that tied him to Russian election interference was "riddled with falsehoods and intentionally salacious accusations."

"I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack or interfere with the election," Cohen said.

"Given my own proximity to the president of the United States as a candidate, let me also say that I never saw anything – not a hint of anything – that demonstrated his involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion."

Cohen also said that the Russian meddling issue has been politicized "to discredit our lawfully elected president" and shame his supporters.

The Senate committee has been interviewing Trump advisors and members of his election campaign as part of a sprawling probe into how Russia tried to influence last year's election to damage front-runner Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, and boost Trump.

US intelligence agencies say Russian President Vladimir Putin himself directed the effort, and Senate and Justice department investigators have been chasing links between the Trump campaign and Moscow for evidence of collusion.

On Monday, CNN reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had run wiretaps on Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, under secret court orders before and after the election. Manafort has drawn suspicions over his work for a pro-Moscow Ukrainian leader years before joining the Trump campaign, and his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.

In his statement, Cohen also denied any link between an effort by Trump, a billionaire developer, to launch a luxury Trump Tower in Moscow and the election.

Cohen said the project proposal was terminated in January 2016, before the first caucuses and primaries for choosing the candidates for the White House. 

"You can oppose the president's points of view and his policies, but not raise false issues about the validity of his victory," Cohen said. – Rappler.com