New York City, USA : President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pled guilty to 8 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations in court in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday afternoon. He also admitted to making payments on behalf of a candidate for federal office to influence the election.
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, said Tuesday he violated campaign finance laws at “direction of the candidate,” an indirect reference to the president.
While reviewing the charges, Cohen told the judge that he made a $130,000 payment at the direction of the candidate for federal office to keep someone quiet, and was later repaid by that same candidate.
At no point did Cohen refer to Trump by name, but the account matches Cohen’s payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in October 2016.
Cohen additionally told the judge he made a contribution of $150,000 at the direction of the candidate, which aligns with his payment to secure the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s account of an alleged affair with Trump.
Michael Cohen said he paid hush money to Stormy Daniels in coordination with Donald Trump to influence the election
Cohen admits to working “at direction of the candidate” Trump and national enquirer to silence Karen McDougal. He also admits to Stormy Daniels payment that he made “with and at direction of the same candidate.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making an excessive campaign contribution on Oct. 27, 2016, which is the same date he finalized a payment to Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement over an alleged affair with Trump.
The $130,000 payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was completed just weeks before the 2016 election. She is now suing Cohen and the president for defamation and to void a non-disclosure agreement about the affair.
Trump initially denied knowing anything about the payment to Daniels, but later acknowledged that he reimbursed Cohen for the expense, which he insisted had nothing to do with the campaign.
Cohen, who worked for Trump on a range of real estate, political and personal matters — including payments to buy the silence of women who said they had sexual relationships with Trump — knows as much or more as anyone in the president’s inner circle.
Cohen hinted weeks ago that he might cooperate with federal prosecutors, but it isn’t clear where those negotiations stood on Tuesday.
Specifically, Cohen reportedly was willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump authorized the much-discussed June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York City between top Trump campaign aides and a delegation of Russians.
The president has repeatedly denied he had any advanced knowledge of that meeting.
Cohen, who described himself in past as Trump’s “pit bull,” became well known for his elbow-throwing and sometimes full-on threats as he worked to move the ball forward for Trump or protect him.
Cohen was an adviser and sometime media surrogate for Trump during the 2016 campaign but he also continued to handle sensitive assignments. Those included managing payments to women who said they’d had sexual relationships with Trump in order to keep them silent.
Trump and the White House have acknowledged that Trump reimbursed Cohen for at least one such payment but the president’s camp denies the underlying allegations about the affairs.
Cohen, evidently mindful about the need someday to substantiate what he says he’s done for Trump, recorded some conversations with the then-candidate in which they talk about the arrangements.
After Trump’s victory and his inauguration, Cohen did not come into the new administration with other insiders or family members. Instead Cohen stayed at arm’s length officially but promised a number of big clients that he could broker access to Trump and advocate on their behalf.
Cohen made millions of dollars from these arrangements but when they were revealed after the FBI raids on his home and office, the companies involved — which included AT&T and pharma giant Novartis — were chastened.
Since the raids, which yielded a huge trove of documents, it has become clear that Cohen was facing the prospect of serious criminal liability in his federal case.
Michael Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, argued Tuesday that his client’s guilty plea and subsequent testimony that he violated campaign finance laws at the direction of a candidate showed President Trump committed a crime.
“Michael Cohen took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter. This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump,” Davis said in a statement.
“Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,” he continued. “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
Cohen, who said in September he would “take a bullet” for the president, was once one of Trump’s closest associates. He spent years working for the Trump Organization, and until recently served as the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels said Tuesday she’s “vindicated” by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and admission that he paid her at the direction of a “candidate for federal office,” a reference to President Trump.
Daniels said in a statement that she and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, “look forward to the apologies from the people who claimed we were wrong.”
Avenatti credited Daniels’s willingness to speak out for Cohen’s eventual guilty plea and argued that Cohen’s admission will increase the chances he can depose Trump in Daniels’s civil lawsuit against the president and Cohen.
Daniels has sued both men to void the nondisclosure agreement she signed that was aimed at keeping her quiet about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.
“I think a lot of this stems from her courage and what she was willing to come forward and do,” Avenatti said Tuesday.
Asked if Cohen’s plea agreement implicates Trump, Avenatti said he believes it does.
“That is a significant problem for the president and he’s got a lot of explaining to do,” he said.