Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion, Campaign Contribution Violation

Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion, Campaign Contribution Violation

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in NY on August 21 to five counts of tax fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

Within minutes of the Manafort verdict, President Trump's former personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two campaign finance violations relating to hush money paid out to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

Trump hasn't said much yet, but he did underscore to reporters Tuesday that "this has nothing to do with Russian collusion" and that the special counsel "witch hunt" is a "disgrace".

What do the developments mean for the president?

Another worrying fact for Trump supporters is that what we know about Cohen is bad, but in this environment, there are nearly always some surprise revelations. But experts said the hush money payments are unlikely to ensnare Trump in a criminal case. Of greater significance to the presidency, Cohen's guilty plea could strengthen one of their civil cases against Trump, increasing the president's legal vulnerability and echoing the litigation that led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment by the House in 1998.

It's important to underscore that Cohen's conviction bore no direct relationship to Moscow's interference in the 2016 election, or the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation.

In an excerpt of a Fox & Friends interview released Wednesday, Trump appeared to suggest that he was exonerated by the fact that the payments came out of his personal finances, and said he only became aware of Cohen's payments after the fact. Trump allies such as former strategist Steve Bannon seek to frame the election as a referendum on the potential impeachment of the president.

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The Trump Organization would later say that the $50,000 was a "payment for tech services".

Daniels' case is now on hold, but Avenatti said he'll be looking to get that hold lifted. However, press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to answer all of the questions, including whether other women received similar payments from Trump.

These are turbulent and potentially perilous days for the President; in effect, he stands accused of conspiring to direct a crime but, even so, it is far from certain his approval ratings will collapse.

Trump's lawyers have said Mueller plans to adhere to that guidance, though Mueller's office has never independently confirmed that. Cohen is intent on telling the truth to whoever asks him and is "more than happy" to tell Mueller all that he knows, Davis said, calling that pledge, "the functional equivalent of co-operation".

The subpoena was issued after Cohen's attorney said his client has information of interest to both state and federal prosecutors. Trump said at one point. "Since Trump has been elected, my office has received numerous calls asking for Congress to work to impeach him".

Daniels is suing Trump to void the 2016 nondisclosure agreement that formally binds her from speaking about their alleged affair.

Cohen may be inclined to cooperate knowing Mueller could recommend more lenient sentencing at his hearing on December 12.

Trump could be headed for a deposition sooner in NY.