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Michael Cohen plea deal: Former Trump lawyer worked to silence Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal 'at direction of the candidate'

Mr Trump's former lawyer did not specifically mention the president in his guilty pleas, which included admissions of bank and tax fraud

Chris Riotta
New York
,Clark Mindock
Tuesday 21 August 2018 22:17 BST
Press conference following Michael Cohen's charge with campaign finance violations, fraud and tax evasion

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, has pleaded guilty to eight felony charges including tax evasion and campaign finance violations stemming from payments during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who claim they had an extramarital affair with the president.

During a court appearance in Manhattan on Tuesday, Mr Cohen told the judge that he was aware of what he was doing before pleading guilty to the charges, shocking those in attendance by admitting that he worked "at the direction of candidate" Trump to attempt to silence Karen McDougal — a former Playboy playmate who has claimed she had an affair with Mr Trump — in 2016, and worked "with and at the direction of the same candidate" to deliver a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to silence her own claims of an affair.

Mr Cohen did not specifically use his former boss' name while pleading guilty, but he was employed by Mr Trump — then a presidential candidate — at the time of the payments.

Mr Cohen is known for his previously close relationship with Mr Trump, and has repeatedly been described as his "fixer" for difficult matters. That proximity means Mr Cohen could potentially create substantial legal headaches for Mr Trump, whose 2016 presidential campaign is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller for any potential cooperation with Russian election meddling.

The guilty pleas came just minutes apart from the first jury convictions of Mr Mueller's investigation, when former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight charges of bank or tax fraud at a federal courthouse in Virginia. Those chargers were not directly related to the president.

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Hello and welcome to our coverage of the a scheduled court appearance by former lawyer for Donald Trump, Michael Cohen.

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 20:13

Mr Cohen is scheduled to appear at 4pm, amid reports that he has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 20:14

Michael Cohen has allegedly reached a plea deal in his financial fraud investigation, the Associated Press reported. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer is reportedly expected to plead guilty to campaign finance fraud charges related to paying multiple women throughout the 2016 election, along with bank fraud and tax evasion charges. 

It remains unclear whether or not Mr Cohen has agreed to cooperate with investigators in addition to pleading guilty. 

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 20:25

As news reports indicate Michael Cohen has allegedly surrendered to the FBI ahead of an expected Tuesday afternoon court appearance, the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is facing a potential verdict in his own fraud case. The jury is currently in its fourth day of deliberations, and has been sending notes to the judge with specific questions, including one which read, “Your Honor, if we could not come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count?”

Catch up with The Independent’s coverage of the Manafort trial here

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 20:37

A source has told Politico ahead of Michael Cohen's expected 4:00 p.m. court appearance in New York that the president's former personal lawyer allegedly accepted a plea deal on federal fraud charges "to save millions of dollars, protect his family, and limit his exposure". 

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 20:43

Reports are swirling ahead of Michael Cohen’s expected 4:00 p.m. court appearance in New York about the details surrounding a plea deal the president’s former personal lawyer has allegedly reached with prosecutors. 

The Wall Street Journal has reported the alleged agreement does not include wording requiring Mr Cohen to cooperate with ongoing investigations, though he still may choose to do so.

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 20:53

Michael Cohen has arrived at New York’s Southern District court to allegedly plead guilty to charges related to campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. 

At the heart of Mr Cohen’s fraud investigation were payments he made to multiple women during the 2016 presidential campaign trail who claimed to have affairs with Donald Trump, as well as more than $20m in loans taken out for the lawyer and his family, the New York Times reported Sunday night. 

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 21:14

Reporters at the courthouse have said Michael Cohen arrived through a side entrance typically used by people in custody, though he is not currently detained. Mr Cohen was reportedly present with his attorney, Guy Petrillo. 

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 21:19

Michael Cohen, the president's former longtime personal lawyer and "fixer," has accepted a plea deal with federal prosecutors in New York. 

Mr Cohen’s plea deal is pursuant to eight different counts, according to his attorney, Guy Petrillo. Mr Cohen reportedly told the judge that he had a glass of Gienlivet 12 on the rocks last night, though he's sober and aware of what he’s doing inside of the courtroom. 

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 21:27

Michael Cohen has accepted a plea deal related to five counts of tax evasion between 2012 and 2016, providing a false statement to a financial institution between February 2015 and April 2016, a willful cause on an unlawful corporate contribution between June 2016 and October 2016 and another excessive campaign contribution on 27 October 2016. 

In total, the president’s former personal lawyer has accepted a plea deal to eight different counts of fraud and campaign finance violations, putting Donald Trump closer to a crime officially committed during his presidential campaign than ever before. 

Steve Anderson21 August 2018 21:35

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