“there’s no business in Russia:” Speaking in Implicatures

During his testimony to congress, Michael Cohen reported, with respect to Donald Trump’s Russian enterprises:

In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for [Donald Trump], he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.

Michael Cohen

What does he mean “he was telling me to lie,” exactly? The linguistic subfield of pragmatics — how meaning is communicated beyond the mere logic of an utterance — illuminates this quite clearly. In short, it’s through a conversational implicature that Trump told Cohen to lie.

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