cohen pleads
April 5, 2019

Michael Cohen's legal team reached out to House Democrats on Thursday night to argue that Cohen is a valuable asset in their investigations of his former boss President Trump, that he could be more valuable by sifting through thousands of files on a newly recovered hard drive, that his imminent three-year prison sentence is unduly harsh, and that therefore the Democrats should reach out to federal prosecutors in Manhattan to delay and/or reduce his prison sentence.

The legal team's 12-page memo also gave new details on how Trump communicated to Cohen that he should lie to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow deal, at least as Cohen understood the message. First, they wrote:

When Cohen had to submit testimony to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in the fall of 2017, Trump and his [White House] advisors encouraged Cohen to lie and say all Moscow Tower project contacts ended as of January 31, 2017. Trump did so using "code" language — telling Cohen during various conversations that there was "no collusion, no Russian contacts, nothing about Russia" after the start of the campaign. [Letter from Cohen lawyers]

Also:

Cohen explained that he was, in effect, instructed to lie about the January 31, 2016, date through the use of Trump code words that could only be interpreted as an instruction or "directive" ... to cover-up the fact that Cohen had been in contact with Russians during most of the presidential campaign ... until June 2016, after Trump had become the putative Republican nominee. [Letter from Cohen lawyers]

The memo and hundred-plus of pages of documentation also assert that Cohen can demonstrate a Trump "conspiracy to collude" with the Russian government during the campaign, plus other alleged crimes committed by Trump. It also implicates Ivanka Trump, purporting to show proof that she knew about the Trump Tower Moscow deal and had tried to help facilitate its fruition. You can read more at BuzzFeed News, or read the memo itself. Peter Weber

August 21, 2018

Apparently a guilty plea is not enough to get a reaction out of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey asked Ryan's office for their reaction to President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes. Their response was ... this: "We are aware of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point."

The information that is currently available includes Cohen admitting he made hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who said they had affairs with Trump, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2018

President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes, something his own lawyer said he needed to do "so that his family can move on to the next chapter."

Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis said on Twitter that Cohen is "fulfilling his promise made on July 2 to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump." In a follow-up tweet, Davis said Cohen "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. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"

Two of the charges are in connection with payments Cohen made before the 2016 presidential election to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who said they had affairs with Trump. In his plea agreement, Cohen said he made those payments "in coordination with an at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2018

President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes. Cohen surrendered to the FBI earlier Tuesday and appeared in federal court in Manhattan where he admitted to campaign finance violations as well as tax and bank fraud. The deal includes the possibility of up to five years in prison for Cohen, CNN reports.

New York Daily News reporter Stephen Brown detailed the charges, which include five counts of tax evasion, one count of giving a false statement to a financial institution, one count of "willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution," and one count of "excessive campaign contribution." The latter refers to the $130,000 payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen, detailing the crimes he was pleading to in court, said he'd made the payments to Daniels, as well as to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office."

The New York Times first reported that the deal concerned the payments Cohen made to the women, who alleged they'd had extramarital affairs with Trump. The president initially said he did not know about Cohen's payment to Daniels, but he eventually admitted on Twitter that he did. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani further revealed in May that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment.

The fraud case had been referred to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. When asked about Cohen's plea, as well as the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "I don't have anything for you on that." Kimberly Alters

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