Almost five months after having his home raided by the FBI, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump has plead guilty to eight criminal counts and directly implicated the president.
Michael Cohen, who has worked as Trump’s personal attorney since the early 2000’s, took a plea deal on Tuesday, Aug. 21. The charges against him included tax evasion, campaign finance violations, false statements to a bank and illegal campaign contributions.
In pleading guilty, Cohen spoke about payments from Trump that were used as hush money for two women who claimed to have had sexual experiences with Trump, including former porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Daniels received $130,000 while McDougal was paid $150,000 for their silence. These illegal payments led to the April raid of Cohen’s hotel, office and home. In the past, Trump has claimed that he was unaware of these payments, or was not informed of them until after they were made.
“I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election” said Cohen, referring to the presidential election of 2016.
Through his plea deal, Cohen has agreed to a fine of a fine of $20,000 to $1 million. A sentencing date has been set for December, when Cohen will face up to 65 years in prison. The plea deal does not require Cohen to cooperate with authorities as they continue investigating, but Cohen’s lawyer has indicated that Cohen would be happy to continue speaking on the topic.
“A source close to the Trump Organization told CNN that the Michael Cohen plea deal is further evidence that he doesn’t have anything damaging on President Trump,” wrote CNN’s Cristina Alesci. “Even if Cohen says Trump told him to break the law, the source says, few would believe Cohen now, after admitting to lying.”
A law professor at the University of California, Irvine, told the Wall Street Journal that Cohen’s admission in court could be an “impeachable offense” for the president, especially if Democrats take the majority of the House after the 2018 midterm elections.
“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,” said Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer.. “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
Minutes after news broke of Cohen’s plea, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of financial fraud.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!” tweeted Trump on Wednesday.