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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A November surprise: Michael Cohen pleads guilty for lying to Congress about the plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, shining a freshly uncomfortable spotlight on President Trump.

Why it matters: "The new guilty plea firmly — and dramatically — shifts the narrative and timeline of the Russia investigation," journalist Garrett Graff writes for WIRED. "While pursuing the White House, Donald Trump was also pursuing personal business deals with a foreign adversary that, according to Mueller’s earlier indictments, engaged in a multifaceted, complex, expensive, and long-running criminal conspiracy to help deliver Trump to the presidency."

Between the lines: The former Trump lawyer reportedly said in court that his three lies were out of loyalty to the president, per NBC News' Tom Winter.

The lies, listed:

  • Lie #1: The Moscow Project ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Trump Organization.
  • Lie #2: Cohen never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and "never considered" asking President Trump to travel for the project.
  • Lie #3: Cohen did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.

What they're saying: Trump told reporters today that Cohen is "a weak person" for pleading guilty, adding he thinks Cohen is "lying to get a reduced sentence."

  • In his written responses to Mueller, Trump acknowledged that he discussed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with Cohen before the deal fell through, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times.

The bottom line: "The potential innocent explanations for Trump's behavior over the last two years are being steadily stripped away," Graff tweeted.

  • "Mueller has identified two separate criminal conspiracies that aided Trump in 2016: Russian cyber ops & Cohen's campaign finance violations. Today, we learned that the central figure in one (Cohen) was trying to contact and get help from the central figure in the other (Putin)."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."