This is What Happens When You Lie to Congress

It's exceedingly difficult to be convicted of perjury or lying to lawmakers.

At his court hearing, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about a Moscow real estate project Trump pursued during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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As President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen joins the short list of people who have been charged with lying to Congress, here’s a look at who he’s joining ranks with and what their ultimate fates were.

Lying to Congress — what’s considered “general perjury” — is, of course, a crime. But it’s a very difficult one to prove, NBC News reports, albeit perhaps maybe not in Cohen’s case since he decided to plead guilty on Thursday. But what’s in store for Cohen now?

When foreign lobbyist W. Samuel Patten failed to register as such this past August, he effectively lied to Congress in the midst of the Russia probe. He entered into a plea agreement soon after, but the stipulations of it made it so the he wasn’t charged with that crime and has still yet to be sentenced. He is, however, cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Another hugely publicized case was that of former seven-time Cy Young Award-winning MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, who allegedly lied in 2008 to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about using performance-enhancing steroids. Clemens’ case was eventually tossed in 2011 and ended in a mistrial. He was acquitted the following year.

In the 1950s, a man named Harvey Matusow, an ex-Communist-turned-FBI-informant, was convicted of lying to Congress for falsely naming 200 people as Communists. For his crimes, Matusow faced a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, according to NBC, and a $10,000 fine. He was sentenced, however, to five years — of which he served only 44 months.

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