Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, appeared in a New York Federal court and pleaded guilty to eight counts. Cohen admitted that he had made illegal campaign contributions in “coordination and with the direction of a candidate running for federal office.” Although the “candidate” Cohen was referring too was not named in court, all think that it’s indeed Donald Trump. It was later confirmed by Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis that the former fixer for the president had testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit the crime.
The crimes are tied to a campaign finance violation related to two women who were paid off by the Trump campaign for their silence about alleged affairs. They included former pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The documents seen by the media didn’t reference Trump’s name. However, it’s very easy to come to the conclusion. One document, in particular, noted that Cohen was the personal attorney of “Individual-1” who at that point had become the president of the United States.
Cohen had long denied the payment to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to prevent them from coming out with allegations of affairs with then-candidate Donald Trump. However, as pressure increased on the former Trump attorney, Cohen admitted that he had in fact made payments to these two women but claimed the president was not aware of the transactions. This is the first time that Michael Cohen has directly implicated Trump under oath. Cohen said that the payments were done for the sole purpose of influencing the election.
Trump’s legal team swiftly reacted to these developments. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current lawyer, said that despite Cohen’s admission of guilt, there was no allegation of wrongdoing on the president’s part. Giuliani also added that Cohen actions on the run-up to the guilty plea were consistent with a “pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.” However, Lanny Davis was quick to deny these claims. Davis who’s now representing Cohen said that the former personal attorney to the president had taken these steps for the sake of his family. Davis added that Cohen was simply fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd during a TV interview that he would put his family and his country first.
The deal between Cohen and federal prosecutors in New York could open a new window of investigation into the Russian probe. So far there isn’t anything to suggest that Cohen’s cooperation with the feds will lead to additional evidence on the collusion. But the former Trump lawyer has made it clear that he’s willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller everything he knows.
It’s very likely that Cohen will face some jail time too. The maximum sentence for the campaign finance violations and other tax evasion charges as mentioned by the judge presiding over the case is 65 years. But Cohen could get a lower sentence in exchange for cooperation in the Russian collusion probe. After all, the current investigation in the New York Southern District was referred there by Mueller.