Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty To Multiple Charges

The President's former lawyer and "fixer" is pleading guilty to a number of charges, including apparent campaign finance law violations related to the Stormy Daniels payment.

Michael Cohen, who served as President Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” who was at the center of two pre-election agreements designed to buy the silence of women alleging they had affairs with Trump in the past, has reportedly reached a plea deal with Federal prosecutors, although it doesn’t appear at this time that the agreement includes cooperating with prosecutors with regard to other investigations:

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s combative former lawyer and fixer, reached a plea agreement on Tuesday with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women on behalf of Mr. Trump, a deal that does not include cooperation with federal authorities, two people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Cohen is expected to plead guilty to multiple counts of bank and tax fraud and campaign finance violations. For months, prosecutors in New York have been investigating him in connection with those crimes and focusing on his role in helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The United States attorney’s office announced that there would be a “proceeding of interest” in a case against a defendant identified only as John Doe — language that almost always indicates a guilty plea. One person with knowledge of the matter said the proceeding would be the guilty plea by Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Cohen surrendered to the F.B.I. at the bureau’s Lower Manhattan offices at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The plea agreement does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.

If Mr. Cohen were to substantially assist the special counsel’s investigation, Mr. Mueller could in the future seek a reduction in his sentence.

The guilty plea represents an extraordinary moment in the investigation into the president: a once-loyal aide acknowledging that he made payments to at least one woman who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, in violation of federal campaign finance law.

Mr. Cohen had been the president’s longtime fixer, handling his most sensitive business and personal matters. He once said he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump.

More from The Washington Post:

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has surrendered to the FBI in New York as he prepares to plead guilty Tuesday afternoon in an investigation into his activities and business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cohen is expected to plead guilty to charges related to bank fraud, tax fraud and a campaign finance violation, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. Cohen agreed to the deal after prosecutors claimed he risked more than a dozen years in prison, one person said.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday at a federal courthouse in Manhattan. Afterward, Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami, who has been overseeing the probe, is scheduled to make public remarks.

The plea discussions follow a months-long grand-jury investigation into Cohen’s activities, including his taxi business, as well as a hush-money payment that Cohen arranged to an adult-film actress, Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a tryst with Trump years ago.

Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016, a month before the 2016 election.

It’s not clear if Cohen has agreed to cooperate in the ongoing special-counsel investigation surrounding Trump. But a plea agreement by Cohen — long the self-professed “fixer” for Trump — could ratchet up the legal pressure on the president.

The news about Cohen’s negotiations with prosecutors come as a jury in the criminal trial of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is deliberating for a fourth day.

Cohen has sent repeated signals that he is likely to cooperate in exchange for leniency from prosecutors.

Reminded that he had previously vowed to “take a bullet” or “do anything” to protect the president, Cohen told ABC in July that Trump is https://twitter.com/jeneps/status/1032005563369041920not his top priority. “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty,” he said.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the announcement of this plea deal comes just one day after it was reported that Cohen did not choose to pursue an agreement with Stormy Daniels until after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, a development that makes it far more likely that this payoff to Daniels, as well as the contemporaneous payoff to former Playboy model Karen McDougal were made to benefit the Trump campaign than that it was to protect the Trump marriage or shield Melania Trump from embarrassment. This is brought home to an even greater extent by the fact that campaign finance law violations are reportedly among the charges that Cohen will plead guilty to today, and the fact that we know  the President knew about the payoff to Daniels but that he had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 that was paid to Daniels, the prospects that this could lead to future legal problems for the President are rather obvious.

As noted above, it appears from the initial reporting that the plea deal being struck today does not include a cooperation agreement. This does not preclude, however, the possibility that Cohen will end up cooperating with both the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the future and that such cooperation could lead to further leniency when it comes to sentencing on the charges that Cohen is pleading guilty to, or perhaps even the dismissal of some of those charges. In any case, this is a potentially significant development in the case against Cohen and in the Mueller investigation, and if I were the President I’d be very nervous right about now.

Update: Reporters inside the courtroom where Cohen is pleading guilty to the charges that are part of the plea deal are reporting something incredibly significant:

In other words, Michael Cohen just implicated the President Of The United States in a conspiracy to violate Federal Campaign Finance Laws. This is definitely going to be of interest to Robert Mueller.

Update #2: Here is the plea agreement between Cohen and the U.S. Attorney:

Michael Cohen Plea Agreement by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

;

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mister Bluster says:

    Fake News? Let T. S. Ellis III be the Judge.

    Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to disclose his foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

    The jury is unable to reach consensus on 10 of the 18 counts in the bank fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Judge T.S. Ellis III will declare a mistrial on 10 unresolved counts but will accept the jury’s verdict on the remaining eight counts. Ellis decided there is “manifest necessity” to proceed.
    CBS

  2. Kathy says:

    [..]and if I were the President I’d be very nervous right about now.

    If you were the president, I’d be a lot less anxious about the future of the world.

    24
    1
  3. lounsbury says:

    Manafort convicted on 8 counts.
    Twitter feed is going to get fired up the next few early AMs.

  4. I have noted in an update that Cohen stated in Court that he made the payments to Daniels and McDougal at the direction of “a candidate for Federal office” who is obviously Donald Trump.

    In other words, Cohen implicated Trump in a conspiracy to violate Federal Campaign Finance Laws.

    27
  5. Kathy says:

    In other words, Michael Cohen just implicated the President Of The United States in a conspiracy to violate Federal Campaign Finance Laws.

    Well, good thing for El Cheeto his lawyer/fixer isn’t cooperating with the prosecutors!

    And just like that, Cohen has become The Worst Ever Person in The History of The World EVER! in Trumplandia.

    14
  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    In other words, Cohen implicated Trump in a conspiracy to violate Federal Campaign Finance Laws.

    Makes the question of whether Cohen has flipped a bit beside the point. Obviously he’s been talking to the SDNY at the very least.

    Good day, very good day. Very bad day for the Trump Crime Family.

    18
  7. Yank says:

    I am just here for Mbunge.

    24
  8. Mister Bluster says:

    …Cohen implicated Trump in a conspiracy to violate Federal Campaign Finance Laws.

    Lock Up Trump! 2018!

    10
  9. mattbernius says:

    I wonder how quick before Trump’s supporters deploy the Rick Gates strategy (i.e. “Cohen was always a crook and therefore you cannot believe anything he says with regard to the president.”).

  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    Also, Manafort guilty on 8 counts, hung on remaining 10.

    And Trump has a rally tonight.

    *gets popcorn ready*

    10
  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Yank:
    Be sure to get the Bung to tell us definitively whether Manafort is some random dude Trump barely even knew, or a really good guy. Ditto Cohen. I like to keep up on which Trump lies are considered canon.

    12
  12. Gustopher says:

    Michael Cohen, who served as President Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” who was at the center of two pre-election agreements designed to buy the silence of women alleging…

    Great use of quotes around “fixer” — a fixer makes problems go away, but Cohen is just a “fixer” so he creates more problems.

  13. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Bungles gonna bungle, but I’m waiting for Pearce to explain how this is good for Trump and bad for Democrats.

    16
  14. Lounsbury says:

    @Yank: He needs to read up on the new talking points out of Yasenevo.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    In the world of Trump, the answer to those questions is… yes.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @wr:

    I’m waiting for Pearce to explain how this is good for Trump and bad for Democrats

    WR! Don’t you know that by even talking about it we are merely playing into Trump’s master plan!!?

    14
  16. An Interested Party says:

    Perfect snark seen elsewhere:

    Just in: Due to overwhelming demand the Grammys have announced a new award category, Best Singing Performance by a Potential Felon. Competition looks to be fierce.

  17. Kathy says:

    I wonder, given the need or desire to pay off Daniels and McDougal, whether it could have been done legally, or is it completely impossible in the context of a presidential campaign?

    If it could have been done legally, then why didn’t these bozos do it?

  18. Mikey says:

    Boom.

    The developments of today will permit us to have the stay lifted in the civil case & should also permit us to proceed with an expedited deposition of Trump under oath about what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it. We will disclose it all to the public.

    https://twitter.com/MichaelAvenatti/status/1031972693351051266

  19. An Interested Party says:

    If it could have been done legally, then why didn’t these bozos do it?

    You’re kidding, right? The villains in the Home Alone movies were smarter than these idiots…

  20. Mikey says:

    And does everyone know what this makes Trump?

    President Unindicted Co-Conspirator.

  21. Hal_10000 says:

    This was crazy. Cohen plea dropping at the exact same time Manafort convictions came through.

    I expect Trump will respond with his usual. But I also expect him and the MAGAhead to politicize the Mollie Tibbets case big time. Which is horrifying.

  22. JKB says:

    It’s all quite pacey.

    But it hasn’t been established that the payments were violations of campaign finance law. They weren’t from campaign funds and they were not a direct consequence of the campaign, i.e., with no campaign they plausibly could have still occurred.

    Yes, arguments will ensue over this detail, but the point is, it will probably have to be decided by the SCOTUS before significant movement against Trump is possible. And we’ve already seen that Trump can be quite effective even with the yapping swamp monsters at his ankles. So, good on for America.

    In any case, we’ll see a change in how things proceed after the first Tuesday in November. Perhaps the Dems will gun up if they gain some power in Congress, but perhaps they’ll want to avoid having their fleeting time taken up? And if those Trump supports prevail in their races, then many in DC will be trying to distance themselves in prep for 2020.

    1
    24
  23. CSK says:

    @mattbernius:

    I refer you to the Michael Cohen thread at Lucianne.com. The consensus amongst the Trumpkins is that Cohen is lying.

  24. An Interested Party says:

    @JKB: Keep whistling past that graveyard if you must, but I suspect this writer is being far more realistic than you are…

    The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad global operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

    Cohen, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka monetized their willingness to sign contracts with people rejected by all sensible partners. Even in this, the Trump Organization left money on the table, taking a million dollars here, five million there, even though the service they provided—giving branding legitimacy to blatantly sketchy projects—was worth far more. It was not a company that built value over decades, accumulating assets and leveraging wealth. It burned through whatever good will and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme.

    16
  25. wr says:

    @JKB: “But it hasn’t been established that the payments were violations of campaign finance law.:

    Except, of course, for Michael Cohen telling the judge he knew they were illegal.

    But you keep on keeping on. MAGA!

    24
  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Shhh, Hannity didn’t tell JKB that. It’s supposed to be a surprise!

  27. Hal_10000 says:

    @CSK:

    Of course it is. This isn’t a political movement, it’s a cult. Oh not necessarily for Trump but against liberals. So someone is a stalwart, good man, salt of the Earth, brilliant, principled … oh, he turned against Trump … he was always lying scum. What a disgrace. He was a Democrat the whole time, you know.

    10
  28. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Cohen’s lawyer (Lanny Davis) was even more explicit on Twitter:

    “Today 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. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

    Part of me still can’t quite believe this is America today.

    15
  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    He was just on Maddow and he buried Trump. This is so far from over on the Cohen front, he is directly going after Trump, including Russia connections. Lanny is a serious guy, he’s not Giuliani. If I was Trump I’d be worried about 8 on a 10 point scale. But given what a huge wuss cadet bone spurs is, I imagine he’s got it turned up to 11. Cohen handled the Trump Tower Moscow deal, he’s all the way in this, and he has flipped like a landed trout.

    8
    1
  30. Pylon says:

    @JKB: it has in fact been established that the payments were campaign finance violations. The judge accepted a guilty plea on that charge.

  31. JKB says:

    @Pylon: it has in fact been established that the payments were campaign finance violations. The judge accepted a guilty plea on that charge.

    Nope, that isn’t how it works. In any case, Trump first has to be impeached before he can be indicted and then there will be litigation over this foolish theory of law. And for Trump to be impeached, first the Dems have to at least win the House. Oh, and then decide to alienate the Constitutional Majority that elected Trump in the run up to 2020.

    And all mixed in there is the very real risk that the Dem actions will kill the recovery and cause people to lose those jobs they are getting. Ultimately, it’s the economy.

    16
  32. Yank says:

    And all mixed in there is the very real risk that the Dem actions will kill the recovery and cause people to lose those jobs they are getting. Ultimately, it’s the economy.

    Lol, you are reaching now.

    Imagine thinking removing Trump will derail the economy (which has been growing for nearly 10 years now). If the economy goes south, it would have nothing to do with Trump being impeached, but the fact that we well over due for a recession.

    And it isn’t about the economy. If that were the case, Trump’s approval ratings would be much higher, like Clinton’s were in 1998.

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    Ultimately, it’s the economy.

    Yeah. . . no. No, it’s not. We are a nation of laws, of ideas, of aspirations, we are not a nation of dogs chasing crumbs from master’s table. You may be for sale, I’m not. What it’s about is the Constitution and the American quest to make this a better country, and do what we can to make a better world.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    *COHEN SAYS HE VIOLATED CAMPAIGN LAW AT DIRECTION OF CANDIDATE
    *COHEN DOESN’T NAME CANDIDATE WHO DIRECTED CAMPAIGN VIOLATION

    Come on guys, don’t you all see that all this means it that it was Hillary directing all the illegal activities all along? Lanny Davis doesn’t know what he’s talking about at all.

  35. KM says:

    @JKB:

    And all mixed in there is the very real risk that the Dem actions will kill the recovery and cause people to lose those jobs they are getting. Ultimately, it’s the economy.

    Yeah, don’t remember any economy crashing caused by Clinton’s impeachment trial and the 90’s were booming. Most of us have real-life experience with a President being hounded by the law and impeached so stuff your BS.

    Plus, who care is if “alienates the Constitutional Majority that elected Trump in the run up to 2020”? If it alienates you that your President is a proven criminal and a Constitutionally mandated process was used to remove him as per the Founders’ wishes….. well, you’re not the patriots you claim to be. You’re rapidly moving from “Dems just don’t like him” rationale to “yeah so he’s a felon but he’s OUR felon! Get rid of him and we’ll riot!” You’ll be surprised how many people you shed once you get to that stage…

  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lava Land:
    Kinda makes you wonder why Trump hired him.

    I mean, it makes normal people wonder.

  37. mattbernius says:

    @Lava Land:

    @wr: because yes now Michael Cohen is such a fine upstanding non liar YAY

    Thanks for being so kind to answer the question I posed earlier.

    A full 28 comments before we hit the Rick Gates defense. Man Trump really hired #TheBestPeople.

  38. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Kinda makes you wonder why Trump hired him.

    He recognized a kindred spirit and brought him into the fold.

  39. wr says:

    @Lava Land: “because yes now Michael Cohen is such a fine upstanding non liar YAY”

    Who worked for Trump for fifteen years. What, did he just become a liar yesterday?

  40. Blue Galangal says:

    @Hal_10000: Who, it turns out, was e-Verified and has worked for a staunch Republican for the past 4 years.

  41. Pylon says:

    @JKB: you didn’t say “it hasn’t been astablished that Trump committed campaign finance offences”. You said that no campaign finance offences had been established. There are in fact two finance convictions against Cohen.

  42. I have posted the plea agreement between Cohen and the Feds as part of an update to this post for those interested.

  43. An Interested Party says:

    Kinda makes you wonder why Trump hired him.

    Just look at his cabinet of deplorables…there’s a definite pattern…