Blow to Trump as Cohen admits illegal campaign contributions


Michael Cohen leaves the court house in NYC yesterday. Image: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
Michael Cohen leaves the court house in NYC yesterday. Image: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Michael Cohen, president Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer”, pleaded guilty yesterday to campaign-finance violations and other charges.

He said he and Mr Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former ‘Playboy’ model to influence the election.



Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas/File PhotoFormer Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Under a plea bargain reached with federal prosecutors, Cohen (51) could get about four to five years in prison at his sentencing on December 12.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts in all, including tax evasion and making a false statement to a financial institution.

In entering the plea, Cohen did not specifically name the two women or even Mr Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate”.

However, the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and ‘Playboy’ Playmate Karen McDougal.

Cohen’s plea follows months of scrutiny from federal investigations and a falling-out with the president, whom he previously said he would “take a bullet” for.

The FBI raided Cohen’s hotel room, home and office in April and seized more than four million items.

The search sought bank records, communications with Mr Trump’s campaign and information on a $130,000 (€112,000) payment to Ms Daniels and a $150,000 (€130,000) one to Ms McDougal.

Both women claimed Mr Trump had affairs with them, which he denies.

Mr Trump ignored questions about Cohen after he arrived on Air Force One for a campaign visit to West Virginia.

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The president has fumed publicly about what he felt was government overreach, while privately worrying about what material Cohen may have after working for the Trump Organization for a decade.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The team referred the case involving Cohen’s financial dealings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

In what was a double blow to the White House administration, Paul Manafort, the long -time political operative who for months led Donald Trump’s winning US presidential campaign, was yesterday separately found guilty of eight financial crimes in the first trial victory of the special counsel investigation into the president’s associates. A judge declared a mistrial on 10 other counts the jury could not agree on.

The jury returned the decision after deliberating four days on tax and bank fraud charges against Manafort, who led the Trump election effort during a crucial stretch of 2016.

Manafort was found guilty of five counts of filing false tax returns on tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting income.

He was also convicted of failing to report a foreign bank account and of two bank fraud charges that accused him of lying to banks to obtain millions of dollars in loans after his income dried up.

The outcome almost certainly guarantees years of prison for Manafort but the verdict also raised immediate questions of whether Mr Trump would seek to pardon Manafort, the lone American charged by Mr Mueller to opt for trial instead of cooperate.

The trial was the first of two for Manafort. He faces a trial later this year in the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests.

He is also accused of witness tampering.

Irish Independent

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