Cohen told lawmakers that Trump attorney encouraged him to give false information to Congress

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By Dartunorro Clark  with NBC News Politics
Image: Michael Cohen Leaves Manhattan Apartment For Three-Year Prison Sente
Michael Cohen departs his apartment for prison on May 6, 2019 in New York City.   -   Copyright  Spencer Platt Getty Images file

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen told lawmakers behind closed doors that Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorneys, encouraged him to give untrue information to lawmakers about the Trump Tower project in Moscow, according to transcripts released Monday.

Cohen testified earlier this year that Sekulow told him to say in 2017 that discussions about the project had ended in January 2016, when, in fact, they had continued for months after that, the transcripts, released by the House Intelligence Committee, show.

Sekulow responded Monday with a statement saying that Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison term, should not be believed.

Cohen, 52, testified publicly in January before the House Oversight Committee that Sekulow was among Trump's personal lawyers who reviewed and edited his 2017 statement to Congress regarding negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

"There were changes made, additions, Jay Sekulow, for one," Cohen told the committee when asked which lawyer reviewed and edited his 2017 statement.

Sekulow denied Cohen's allegation in a statement at the time.

"Today's testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false," Sekulow said in the statement.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and is now serving three years in federal prison. He admitted to making several significant false statements to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017 about Trump's Moscow project, including testimony that the project had ended in January 2016 because of "business reasons."

Cohen said at the time he made the false statement because he was extremely loyal to Trump. He also said that Trump "did not directly tell me to lie to Congress" but added that in Trump's his way "he was telling me to lie."

"To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election," Cohen told the oversight committee. "He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project."