NEWS
21/08/2018 20:25 BST | Updated 22/08/2018 08:50 BST

Ex-Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Implicates President In Illegal Election Interference Plea

He struck a plea deal on Tuesday.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to illegally interfering in the 2016 election at the direction of the president.

Cohen says he worked “at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” ostensibly Trump, for the purpose of influencing the election. He has also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, two counts related to an illegal campaign contribution and one count of making a false statement.

The plea announcement came shortly after multiple outlets reported that Cohen had reached a plea deal with prosecutors of the Southern District of New York. 

The deal is specifically related to payments Cohen made to women on behalf of Trump, The New York Times said.

Prosecutors had been focusing on potential bank and tax fraud violations related to the Cohen family’s taxi medallion business, the paper reported over the weekend, citing people familiar with the matter.

The investigators were said to be evaluating $20m in loans the lawyer obtained from two New York area banks, to determine whether he misrepresented the value of his assets. They also looked into whether Cohen failed to report income from the taxi business to the IRS.

A lawyer for Cohen said in April that federal prosecutors in New York were investigating his client on a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

Cohen, 51, had reportedly been expecting an indictment for a while. Combined with his deteriorating relationship with the president, the attorney’s legal quagmire could push him to cooperate with prosecutors any way he can. 

His admission came as Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight counts of fraud after a federal court trial in Virginia. 

The 69-year-old now faces up to five years in jail.

Some of the information seized by investigators in the Cohen probe was reportedly related to the $130,000 in hush money that he paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels – real name Stephanie Clifford – who says she had an affair with Trump.

Cohen used to be known as Trump’s loyal “fixer,” the man who tamped down the scandals that brewed during the former reality TV star’s presidential run. “I’m the guy who protects the president and the family,” he told Vanity Fair last year. “I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president.”

Last month Cohen’s own lawyer Lanny Davis insisted his client had “turned a corner in his life,” adding, “He’s now dedicated to telling the truth.”