After his former campaign manager was found guilty on eight counts of fraud and his ex-personal lawyer admitted campaign finance violations, the White House has struggled to form a coherent response.
The President lashed out at his former attorney in a Twitter post and said the offences to which Cohen pleaded guilty were not a crime, before once again calling the Special Counsel probe a “witch hunt”.
But there has been a lot happening, so we’ve condensed the past three days into a handy explainer.
Donald Trump’s Response
During an interview with the conservative news channel Fox that aired on Thursday, Trump made a number of claims about the convictions, and the issue of impeachment was clearly on his mind.
He said: “I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job.”
He also claimed American citizens would become “very poor” if he was impeached and said he had “great respect” for Paul Manafort, a man who was on Tuesday convicted of defrauding the US Government.
Read the full story here.
There’s A Mystery $50,000 Payment Buried In The Legal Documents
While the majority of attention on the Michael Cohen case has centred on the payments made to two women who allege they had had affairs with Trump, another, smaller payment is potentially even more intriguing.
Buried in the legal documents released on Tuesday is a previously unreported and undeclared payment for $50,000 (£38,800) that Cohen made in 2016.
Prosecutors said it was for work “solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign”.
Trump and his associates have not answered questions on what the money was for.
The implication is that Cohen, often described as Trump’s former “fixer”, was doing more than just paying out hush money to adult film stars.
Yesterday Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told various US news networks that his client has “knowledge of a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy by the Russians and the failure to report that knowledge to the FBI”.
There has been no evidence yet that this information and the mystery payment are linked.
Trump Has Basically Admitted Committing A Federal Crime
Trump’s attempt to limit the damage from the court cases backfired when his explanation essentially amounted to an admission of a federal crime.
Despite previously insisting he knew nothing about the payments, Trump admitted to Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt that he was involved, but because the money came from his own pocket it’s “not even a campaign violation”.
But if the money came from Trump’s own pocket then it amounts to an illegal loan to his campaign, as he did not report the payment.
Trump Could Be Forced To Release His Tax Returns
Cohen’s woes are set to continue after it was confirmed he had been subpoenaed by New York state as part of its probe into whether or not the Trump Foundation broke state law or lied about its tax liability.
This particular case could become especially juicy, as if evidence of alleged crimes is found, state Attorney General Barbara Underwood could force Trump to release his tax returns, something he has long-resisted.
And if that wasn’t bad enough for the President, on Thursday afternoon it was announced federal prosecutors had granted immunity to two executives of the company that publishes the National Enquirer.
David Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump and Cohen, have already met with prosecutors to describe the involvement of the President and Cohen in the hush-money deals, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Another AMI executive, Dylan Howard, also received immunity,
Trump Could Pardon Paul Manafort
Trump’s reactions to the cases of Cohen and Manafort – his former campaign manager – have differed starkly.
Cohen was accused by Trump of “making up stories”, while Manafort was praised for being a “brave man”.
Fox News reporter Ainsley Earhardt, who interviewed Trump, said he had told her that he would consider pardoning Manafort. “I think he feels bad for Manafort. They were friends,” she said.
He has not indicated he would pardon Cohen.
Manafort is currently considering whether to to co-operate with the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in return for a reduced sentence, a move which would further imperil the President.
Cohen meanwhile has already flipped and said he would cooperate with the probe, led by Robert Mueller, meaning a pardon would not improve Trump’s position.
A Member Of The Manafort Jury Has Spoken Out
Juror Paula Duncan told Fox News that although she is a Trump supporter and “did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty” the evidence against him was “overwhelming”.
She added: “I thought that the public, America, needed to know how close this was, and that the evidence was overwhelming.
“I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was, and no one’s above the law. So it was our obligation to look through all the evidence.”
It also emerged that only one juror was behind the 10 counts the jury could not unanimously agree on.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Says Everything Is Fine
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Sanders said Trump did not lie to reporters aboard Air Force One over payments made by his former lawyer Michael Cohen. But the evidence so far does not back this up.
On 5 April Trump categorically denied any knowledge of the payments when asked about it by reporters aboard his aircraft.
But in a preview clip of a Trump interview with Fox News broadcast later, Trump says he knew about the payments “later on”.
And in July Cohen released an audio recording of Trump discussing the payments before they were made.
Read the story in full here.