Update: Michael Cohen has entered into a plea agreement on campaign finance violations, bank fraud and tax evasion with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, according to ABC, confirming earlier reports.
However, contrary to the NBC suggestion that Cohen would “flip” on Trump as part of the plea, CNN reported that as part of the plea deal under discussion, Cohen is not expected to cooperate with the government. Instead, by pleading guilty, both Cohen and prosecutors would avoid the spectacle and uncertainty of a trial.
Prosecutors said in court their investigation is into Cohen’s personal financial dealings. The search warrant authorizing the FBI raid referenced Cohen’s taxi medallion business, the identity of banks that loaned him money and payments made to suppress negative information during the presidential campaign, such as the $130,000 hush money payment Cohen made days before the election to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump nearly a decade ago. Trump has denied an affair.
It’s not clear how any plea deal with Cohen might affect other entities that have been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors as part of the Cohen investigation, including the publisher of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which gave a $150,000 contract during the 2016 election cycle to another woman who alleged an affair with Trump.
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Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney who we learned on Sunday is under federal investigation for bank fraud totaling “well over $20 million”, is discussing a possible guilty plea with Manhattan federal prosecutors in connection with tax fraud and banking related matters, according to NBC. While no deal has been reached, NBC’s sources say the potential deal could be reached as early as today.
A plea by Cohen would have significant implications for Trump, who has worked closely with Cohen for more than a decade and who has blasted Cohen ever since his former fixer and his attorney, old Clinton hand Lanny Davis, began signaling this summer that Cohen might cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The Cohen probe is being led by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, but any cooperation agreement would likely extend to other federal investigations. As a reminder, in July Cohen, who once bragged he’d take a bullet for Trump, hinted that may have changed. “I put family and country first,” he told ABC.
In addition to bank and tax fraud questions arising from Cohen’s taxi business, federal prosecutors are looking into whether the hush-money payments Cohen arranged with women who claimed they had sexual encounters with Trump amount to violations of campaign finance law.
FBI agents raided Cohen’s office and hotel room in April and seized documents and electronics. According to people with knowledge of the search warrant, agents were looking for information related to a $130,000 transaction between Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago, as well as information about a reported payment of $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also says she had an affair with Trump, and information about the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump was heard making vulgar boasts about women.
The FBI has also monitored his phone calls with a pen register, meaning that the incoming and outgoing phone numbers were recorded but not the content of the calls.
In July, Davis released a phone conversation that Cohen secretly recorded in which Trump mentions “cash” in relation to a possible payment involving McDougal.
In recent weeks, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has led the push to discredit Cohen. In a July interview with CNN, Giuliani called Cohen “a person who is found to be an incredible liar, who’s got a tremendous motive to lie now.”
The president and his attorneys have denied that Cohen’s cooperation could incriminate the president.
“[Cohen] is not cooperating, nor do we care because the president did nothing wrong,” Giuliani said on Fox News in June.
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Author: Tyler Durden