Other Illegal Acts Involving Trump Being Probed, Says Cohen

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Donald Trump’s former personal attorney told Congress Wednesday US authorities are investigating illegal activities involving the president beyond those that have already been made public.

Cohen had spent hours addressing accusations that Trump paid hush money to two women in 2016, and directed his lawyer to lie about negotiations over a Moscow business deal, and was asked if he was aware of “any other wrongdoing or illegal act” regarding Trump that had yet to be addressed in the hearing.

READ ALSO: Trump Is A ‘Racist,’ ‘Conman’ And ‘Cheat,’ Ex-Lawyer Tells Congress

He replied that he had, but could not discuss the allegations because “those are part of the investigation that are currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”

AFP

Trump Is A ‘Racist,’ ‘Conman’ And ‘Cheat,’ Ex-Lawyer Tells Congress

Trump Is A 'Racist,' 'Conman' And 'Cheat,' Ex-Lawyer Tells Congress
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, assailed his former boss as a “racist” and a  “conman” in explosive testimony before the US Congress Wednesday.

Addressing the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cohen — who has been sentenced to jail for crimes related in part to his work for Trump — expressed regret for his past loyalty.

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” Cohen said.

“He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”

Cohen said he was presenting “irrefutable” evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing including a check reimbursing “hush money” paid to two women shortly before the 2016 election.

He also said Trump directed negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow through the 2016 election campaign even while denying any business ties with the Russians.

AFP

Democrat Vows To Probe Trump Lawyer’s Alleged Lies To Congress

 Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney for US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

A top Democrat in the US Congress has vowed to look into a report that President Donald Trump ordered his personal attorney to lie to Congress to hide dealings with Russia.

Adam Schiff, who heads the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives, was reacting to a report late Thursday by the online site BuzzFeed that Trump ordered lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress in 2017 about talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” Schiff tweeted.

“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”

Trump also supported a Cohen plan to visit Russia during the presidential campaign to meet President Vladimir Putin to jump-start the Moscow tower negotiations according to BuzzFeed, which cites two unnamed federal law enforcement officials as sources.

The trip never materialized, and Trump has repeatedly and emphatically denied dealings with Russia during the campaign.

Cohen also provided Trump and two of his children — Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. — regular updates about the Moscow project, the sources told BuzzFeed.

Cohen, who was the real estate billionaire’s right-hand-man and fixer at his umbrella company the Trump Organization, in New York at the time, pleaded guilty last year to several charges including the violation of campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments ahead of the 2016 election to women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by stating that the Trump Moscow project ended in January 2016, long before Trump became the Republican presidential nominee, when it actually extended into June 2016.

The New York lawyer, 52, was sentenced to three years in jail for the campaign finance violation and other charges.

His incarceration has been delayed while he provides support to ongoing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and Trump’s finances.

Cohen is scheduled to testify to the House Oversight Committee, newly controlled by opposition Democrats, on February 7 about his work for Trump.

AFP

Trump’s Former Lawyer, Cohen Sentenced To Three Years In Prison

In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018, Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for US President Donald Trump, exits the Loews Regency hotel and walks toward a taxi cab in New York City. 
Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen delivered a blistering attack on his ex-boss as he was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for multiple crimes including making hush payments to silence two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

“I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said as he pleaded for leniency before US District Judge William H. Pauley III in a packed Manhattan courtroom.

An emotional Cohen, Trump’s longtime “fixer,” told the court he was taking responsibility for his personal crimes and “those implicating the President of the United States of America.”

Cohen’s lawyers had argued for no jail time after he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, providing false statements to a bank, illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to Congress.

But Judge Pauley said Cohen — as a lawyer — “should have known better” and sentenced him to three years in federal prison, ordering him to surrender to custody by March 6.

“Each of these crimes standing alone warrant considerable punishment,” Pauley said, adding that Cohen was “motivated by personal greed and ambition.”

“A significant term of imprisonment is fully justified in this highly publicized case to send a message,” the judge said.

The charges were brought by federal prosecutors in New York and by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.

Before Pauley passed sentence the 52-year-old Cohen addressed the court, saying it was his devotion to Trump that caused him to choose “a path of darkness over light.”

“Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back,” he said.

“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen I deeply admired,” Cohen said.

“I now realize there was little to admire,” he said.

‘Dirty deeds’

Cohen referred to a recent tweet from Trump calling him “weak,” saying his only weakness was “blind loyalty” to his former boss.

“Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,” he said.

Among the charges against Cohen was making hush money payments to silence two women threatening to go public during the election campaign with claims they had affairs with Trump.

Cohen told prosecutors the payments totalling $280,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal were made “in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump — referred to by prosecutors as “Individual-1.”

Both women have claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump before he was the Republican candidate for president and prosecutors have characterized the payments as illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election.

“Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election,” prosecutors said.

Trump this week sought to minimize the importance of the payments saying they were a “simple private transaction” and were “wrongly” being called campaign contributions.

“Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,” Trump tweeted. “WITCH HUNT!”

There was no immediate reaction from Trump to Cohen’s sentencing.

Lied to Congress

While federal prosecutors said Cohen’s cooperation was limited and selective, the special counsel’s office said Cohen had “gone to significant lengths” to assist their investigation.

Last month, Cohen acknowledged that he had lied to Congress about his contacts with Russia during the election campaign about building a Trump Tower in Moscow and the extent of Trump’s own involvement in the negotiations.

Cohen, wearing a dark suit with a light blue tie, arrived for the sentencing with his wife, son and daughter, who was walking with a crutch. Other family members were also in the audience including his 83-year-old wheelchair-bound father.

For 12 years, Cohen was vice president of The Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Trump’s real estate businesses, and one of the principal confidants of the New York billionaire.

Investigators raided Cohen’s offices and New York home in April, seizing stacks of documents and electronic devices.

Trump Denies Collusion After Major Revelations In Russia Probe

Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Slams Cohen 'Stories' On Hush Payments
This combination of file pictures created on April 11, 2018, shows Michael Cohen (L), President Trump’s ex-personal lawyer, and US President Donald Trump. NICHOLAS KAMM, MARK WILSON / AFP / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

 

United States President Donald Trump on Saturday again denied that his presidential campaign colluded with Russian operatives, but made no comment about claims that he directly organised hush payments to ward off a possible sex scandal during his White House run.

Trump took to Twitter, his favorite means of communication, to address the multiple court filings that dropped on Friday in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!” the president said.

While the filings indeed did not appear to reveal evidence of collusion, they did offer a wealth of new information about what Mueller’s team is looking into, along with other federal prosecutors in New York.

Prosecutors directly implicated Trump in efforts to buy the silence of two women who claimed they had had affairs with him, saying he directed his then-attorney Michael Cohen to offer them hush money.

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” the New York prosecutors said.

“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” they added, referring to Trump.

The payments are technically unrelated to the Russia probe, but prosecutors painted a damning picture of the “extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct” of Cohen — once a member of Trump’s inner circle of trusted aides.

In August, the 52-year-old Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in connection with the payments.

“Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election,” prosecutors said.

‘Synergy on a government level’

In a separate sentencing memo, Mueller said that Cohen was in contact with a Russian national as far back as November 2015 — months before Trump formally won the presidential nomination and well before previously reported contacts — who offered “synergy on a government level.”

That Russian national claimed to have ties to the Kremlin and repeatedly proposed a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The individual said the meeting could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well,” but Cohen never followed up, Mueller said.

That combination of political and business interests could spell trouble for Trump, whose real estate empire was seeking to build a signature tower in Moscow as late as mid-2016 in the midst of his White House bid.

Last week, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Moscow real estate project.

Recent filings in the Mueller probe have suggested the White House knew that Cohen planned to lie to lawmakers about his contacts with Russians.

Due to his “relevant” and “substantial” help, Mueller declined to recommend additional jail time, but Cohen is still expected to face four to five years behind bars.

Multiple ‘lies’

Also on Friday, new twists and turns emerged in the case against Trump’s onetime campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was convicted in August of financial fraud and witness tampering charges and pleaded guilty to a second set of charges a month later.

Prosecutors accused Manafort of multiple “lies” to investigators: about his contacts with administration officials even after striking a plea deal; about a debt payment; and about his interaction with a suspected Russian intelligence officer.

The breach of the plea deal could lead to a stiffer jail sentence than the 10 years originally envisaged for the 69-year-old veteran Republican consultant.

Manafort has been convicted mostly on charges related to his work for pro-Moscow politicians in Ukraine between 2004 and 2014.

But he has also been investigated for his possible role in alleged campaign collusion with Russia during the election.

Mueller has been inching ever closer to the White House, and on Friday, Trump fired off a feverish volley of tweets against a probe he dubs a “witch hunt,” accusing Mueller of “big time conflicts of interest” and alleging he coerced false testimony from witnesses.

For House Democrat John Garamendi, these may be “the opening days of an impeachment.”

Trump is a president who “clearly has surrounded himself with criminals,” he told CNN.

“During the campaign, laws were broken… And now we have the president implicated in that,” he said.

 

AFP

Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Misleading Congress

Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Slams Cohen 'Stories' On Hush Payments
Michael Cohen                                                                                           Trump

 

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a New York court Thursday to misleading Congress over the ongoing Russia investigation.

The 52-year-old exited a Manhattan federal court dressed in a suit on Thursday, ignoring questions from a mob of reporters and got wordlessly into the back of a vehicle before being driven away.

He pleads guilty to one count of making false statements relating to a real-estate deal at the roughly hour-long hearing, an official confirmed.

In September, his lawyer said Cohen had been providing “critical information” to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators.

Cohen, once one of Trump’s top aides, began talking with the Mueller investigation after he pleaded guilty on August 21 to bank fraud and campaign finance violations in a separate deal with New York prosecutors.

Mueller is investigating whether the Trump election campaign in 2016 colluded with Russian efforts to damage his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and whether Trump has sought to illegally obstruct the investigation.

But the span of the investigation also reportedly encompasses Trump’s business dealings, to which Cohen had a front row seat for years as a senior executive in the president’s real estate business in New York, the Trump Organization.

Once known as Trump’s “pit bull” and right-hand man, Cohen was privy to multi-million-dollar deals and payments to two alleged lovers — whose claims could have potentially sabotaged his boss’s 2016 election.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges involving his arrangement of payouts of hush money to those women — widely thought to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — before the 2016 election.

Hanging Trump out to dry, Cohen testified under oath in court that the president directed him to break campaign finance law, while pleading guilty to bank and tax fraud.

AFP

Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Cohen Providing Information In Mueller Probe

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court, August 21, 2018 in New York City.  Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has provided “critical information” to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, his attorney said Thursday.

Cohen, once one of Trump’s top aides, began talking with the Mueller investigation after he pleaded guilty on August 21 to bank fraud and campaign finance violations in an agreement with New York prosecutors.

“Good for @MichaelCohen212 in providing critical information to the #muellerinvestigation without a cooperation agreement,” tweeted Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer.

The news was originally reported by ABC, which said the 52-year-old New York lawyer and businessman “has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours” with Mueller’s team.

The report hinted at bad news for Trump as Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation increasingly closes in on the White House.

One week ago, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed in a plea deal with Mueller to cooperate in the investigation.

Cohen did not make a commitment to cooperate when he pleaded guilty, but it was clear that cooperation could help him get a lighter sentence.

Mueller is probing whether the Trump election campaign in 2016 colluded with Russian efforts to damage his opponent, Hillary Clinton and whether Trump has sought to illegally obstruct the investigation.

But the span of the investigation also reportedly encompasses Trump’s business dealings, to which Cohen had a front seat during the decade before the election as a senior executive in the president’s real estate business in New York, the Trump Organization.

Once known as Trump’s “pit bull” right-hand man, Cohen was privy to multi-million-dollar deals and two alleged lovers — whose claims could have potentially sabotaged his boss’s 2016 election.

Cohen pleaded guilty to charges involving his arrangement of payouts of hush money to those women — widely thought to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen Mcdougal — just before the November 2016 vote.

In the plea, Cohen stated that he had acted at his boss’s request to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Along with two counts of violating campaign finance laws, Cohen also has pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud.

The scandal-prone Trump lambasted his former fixer, accusing him of making up “stories” to cut the plea deal before saying the lawyer’s actions were “not a crime” and “not even a campaign violation.”

In a Fox interview, Trump took aim at his once close associate for “flipping,” saying it “almost ought to be outlawed.”

Trump conversely praised Manafort for going to trial — the first case stemming from Mueller’s probe to go before a jury — and eschewing a plea deal, but he is now also cooperating with the investigation.

AFP

Facing Legal Threats, Trump Says Impeachment Would ‘Crash’ Stock Market

Trump's Options Narrowing As Investigations Close In
File photo: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

 

US President Donald Trump warned Thursday the US economy would collapse if he were impeached, as legal chaos roiling the White House has experts saying his presidency is under threat.

Days after Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told a federal judge he made illegal campaign contributions at the president’s request — to silence women alleging affairs with Trump — the Republican leader told Fox News that an impeachment would only cause more turmoil.

“I will tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends.” “You would see – you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse.”

The US president then launched into a rambling statement on job creation and other economic progress he said had been made during his presidency.

“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job,” Trump said.

Trump was dealt severe back-to-back blows on Tuesday when Cohen pled guilty to illegal campaign finance violations and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud within minutes of each other.

The Manafort conviction was the first case sent to trial by the special prosecutor probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But an unchastened Trump appears intent on riding out the storm as Washington grapples with the latest upheaval in his tumultuous presidency.

The president has insisted he did nothing wrong after Cohen, his longtime private lawyer and fixer, implicated him in the illicit hush payments made before the 2016 election to two women who claimed to have had affairs with the Republican presidential candidate.

Although Cohen did not name them, the women were believed to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Because the hush payments were intended to influence the outcome of the elections, they violated US laws governing campaign contributions.

In entering a guilty plea, Cohen said the payments were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” in clear reference to Trump.

Trump was evasive when asked in the Fox News interview if he had instructed Cohen to make the payments, saying that his former lawyer “made the deals,” and insisted that Cohen’s actions were “not a crime.”

“Campaign violations are considered not a big deal, frankly,” he said.

Trump then said the hush payments were financed with his own money – to which Cohen had access — and that while he had no knowledge of them at the time, he had since been fully transparent.

Presidential pardon?

Despite Trump’s defiant tone, Washington-based campaign finance expert Kate Belinski, of the Nossaman law firm, said to expect legal consequences for both Trump and his campaign – most likely in the form of a civil complaint before the Federal Election Commission.

In addition to the two counts of violating campaign finance laws, Cohen also has pled guilty to six counts of fraud.

In the sit-down with Fox, Trump slammed his once close associate for “flipping,” saying it “almost ought to be outlawed.”

Trump conversely praised Manafort for going to trial — where the president’s former campaign chief was found guilty of eight counts of financial fraud.

The US president lauded the 69-year-old Manafort for leaving his fate to a jury rather than striking a plea deal — a move that has sparked speculation Manafort hopes for a pardon.

Asked if he was considering such a move, Trump said only that he has “great respect for what he has done, in terms of what he has gone through.”

“One of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial,” Trump said.

Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Slams Cohen ‘Stories’ On Hush Payments

Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Slams Cohen 'Stories' On Hush Payments
This combination of file pictures created on April 11, 2018, shows Michael Cohen (L), President Trump’s personal lawyer, and US President Donald Trump. NICHOLAS KAMM, MARK WILSON / AFP / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

 

Donald Trump insisted Wednesday he did nothing wrong after his longtime attorney implicated him in illicit hush payments made before the 2016 election, as experts warned the legal maelstrom swirling around the Republican leader could further threaten his presidency.

On perhaps the worst day of Trump’s tumultuous time in office, his former fixer Michael Cohen told a federal judge Tuesday he had made illegal campaign contributions — in the form of payments to silence women alleging affairs with Trump — at his boss’s request.

Cohen’s statements came on a day of head-spinning political drama for Trump, whose former campaign chief Paul Manafort was found guilty within the same hour of federal tax and bank fraud, in the first case sent to trial by the special prosecutor probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

While the full implications for the real estate mogul-turned-president remain unclear, Cohen’s statements — and the prospect of more revelations to come — puts Trump in legal peril.

But the mercurial US leader appeared determined to ride out the latest storm.

After first accusing Cohen of making up “stories” to cut a plea deal, he then tweeted that the lawyer’s actions were “not a crime,” and went further in an interview with “Fox and Friends,” saying they were “not even a campaign violation.”

In that interview, Trump said the hush payments were financed with his own money — to which Cohen had access — and that while he had no knowledge of them at the time, he had since been fully transparent.

“My first question when I heard about it was, ‘Did they come out of the campaign?’ because that could be a little dicey,” he said of the payments — believed to have been made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

“But they didn’t come out of the campaign,” he said. “They came from me and I tweeted about it.”

Despite Trump’s defiant tone, Washington-based campaign finance expert Kate Belinski, of the Nossaman law firm, said to expect legal consequences for both Trump and his campaign — most likely in the form of a civil complaint before the Federal Election Commission.

Cohen has meanwhile pleaded guilty to two counts of violating campaign finance laws, along with six counts of fraud — identifying Trump as his co-conspirator when it came to the hush payments.

– ‘He did nothing wrong’ –

In a string of interviews early Wednesday, Cohen’s own lawyer Lanny Davis took aim squarely at the president, dubbing him a “criminal.”

“He committed a crime,” Davis told CBS News.

“If he were not president, he clearly would be indicted and jailed for that crime.”

In practice, an indictment is highly unlikely: since 2000, the Justice Department position has been that a sitting president is “immune from indictment as well as from further criminal process.”

And while the president could theoretically be impeached, it remains a remote prospect in a Republican-dominated Congress where even Democrats are focused on letting Robert Mueller’s Russia probe play out.

But Cohen’s cooperation with investigators may yet pose a wider threat.

Writing on the Lawfare blog, former White House counsel Bob Bauer said: “As (Richard) Nixon found when one of his lawyers also became a witness for the government, this can be the beginning of very hard times.”

The White House insisted Trump was not concerned “at all” that Cohen might implicate the president by cooperating with Mueller.

“He knows that he did nothing wrong and that there was no collusion,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

But Davis told CBS News that Cohen knew of election tampering efforts during the 2016 campaign that would be “of interest to the special counsel.”

– Limited options –

Rather than cut a deal, Manafort chose to leave his fate to a jury, prompting speculation he was hoping for a pardon — something Trump has not ruled out.

After four days of deliberations, the 69-year-old was found guilty of eight counts of financial fraud.

Even as Manafort learned of his fate, the 51-year-old Cohen was revealing in Manhattan how he made hush payments “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” and “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Legal experts say Trump is fast running out of options to avoid possible impeachment or prevent his family from convictions.

His three basic strategies: cooperate with Mueller in order to buttress the White House campaign to tarnish the probe as a “witch hunt”; continue attacking and buy time to the mid-term elections where he hopes Republicans retain both houses of Congress; or fire Mueller and shut down the investigation.

The so-called “nuclear option” backfired for former president Richard Nixon, whose firing of Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox further eroded his support until he resigned a year later in the face of certain impeachment.

Michael Cohen Pledged To ‘Take A Bullet’ For Trump

Michael Cohen, former lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, exits the Federal Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in New York City. Cohen reached an agreement with prosecutors, pleading guilty to charges involving bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. Yana Paskova/Getty Images/AFP

 

One year ago Michael Cohen, the longtime lawyer and fixer to Donald Trump pledged he “would take a bullet for the president.”

On Tuesday that once-deep loyalty melted away when Cohen stunningly implicated the US president in two felony crimes as he pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations.

It was a huge takedown for the brash New Yorker, who tied the last decade of his career personally to Trump.

Cohen, 51, a one-time personal injury lawyer who accumulated a small fortune in Manhattan’s shady taxi badge industry, bought real estate in a Trump building and eventually worked his way into an office right next to the billionaire’s in his eponymous 5th Avenue skyscraper.

As the personal lawyer to one of New York’s richest property magnates and an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, he handled numerous business deals inside and outside the United States for his boss, as well as fixing some of the future president’s more seamy problems.

Left on the wayside when Trump moved triumphantly into the White House, Cohen made a business out of his personal contact in the Oval Office and swore his allegiance, fighting to protect Trump’s reputation.

“I’m the guy who stops the leaks. I’m the guy who protects the president and the family. I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president,” he told Vanity Fair in September 2017.

 Taxi business to real estate 

Cohen grew up on Long Island and earned his law degree from Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School, one of the lowest-ranked law schools in the country.

In 1994, he married Laura Shusterman, the daughter of a Soviet emigre who was in the notoriously rough-and-tumble taxi business in the Big Apple.

Cohen began buying and selling taxi medallions, once worth as much as $1 million each, which allow a driver to operate a yellow cab.

As a property investor working with his Russian and Ukrainian contacts, Cohen’s name was attached to multiple deals worth tens of millions of dollars.

But, the New York Times reported, he could flip property so quickly that it raised eyebrows over what and who was really behind the trades.

One year before the election, even as Trump was already on the campaign trail, he took the lead in an effort to seal a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, tapping connections close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the deal — one sought by Trump since the 1990s — never gelled.

It was during the campaign that he showed his other value to the president-to-be: buying the silence of women who threatened to reveal to the public their alleged affairs with the Republican candidate.

Just days before the election, Cohen paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her past with Trump.

He also was involved in buying for $150,000 the rights to the story of Playboy model Karen McDougal about her alleged affair with Trump.

Those actions, which involved shell companies and offshore entities controlled by Cohen, got him into legal trouble over banking, tax and campaign finance laws.

Cohen initially said he used his own money to pay Daniels and was not reimbursed. Trump, who first denied knowing anything about the payment, has since conceded that Cohen was paid back.

Millions for lobbying Trump 

But Cohen’s case became an embarrassment and a threat to Trump. Trump declared early on that the investigation was all about Cohen’s private business, with nothing to do with him.

It also emerged that after Trump became president, Cohen actively marketed his access to the president. He earned some $2 million from companies like AT&T and Novartis, while pitching himself as “Personal Counsel to President Donald J. Trump.”

“I’m crushing it,” the Washington Post reported he told an associate in mid-2017.

He further angered Trump in July when, according to reports, he told investigators that the US president knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting in which Russians were expected to share dirt on then-election rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump denied in a tweet that he knew of the meeting, which is at the center of the investigation into possible collusion with Russians.

“Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam,” Trump said.

AFP

Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Cohen Pleads Guilty To Fraud, Campaign Finance Violations

AUGUST 21: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court, August 21, 2018, in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight counts, including fraud and campaign finance violations.

Questioned by a federal judge in Manhattan, Cohen indicated he had paid sums of $130,000 and $150,000 each to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, at his boss’s request in order to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Michael Cohen Agrees To Plea Deal – Reports

This file photo taken on April 26, 2018, shows US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen (C) leaving the US Courthouse in New York.  Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, has agreed to plead guilty to charges stemming from a federal investigation of his business dealings and possible campaign finance violations, several US media reported Tuesday.

There was no initial confirmation of the plea deal reported by several media including NBC News and The New York Times, or of the specific charges involved, but Cohen was set to appear in Manhattan criminal court at 4 pm (2000 GMT).

US media had reported earlier on Tuesday that Cohen was finalising a plea agreement with federal prosecutors investigating his business dealings and possible campaign finance violations.

A guilty plea would avoid a high profile trial, but also could require Cohen to cooperate with investigators probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in its efforts to sway the 2016 US presidential elections.

Neither prosecutors in Manhattan nor Cohen’s attorney would comment on the matter.

Guilty pleas are common in the United States when it appears prosecutors have sufficient evidence for a conviction if the case goes to trial.

The FBI raided Cohen’s home and office on a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into whether Trump sought to obstruct the Russia meddling probe.

Cohen – who once declared he was so loyal he would “take a bullet for the president” – was involved in efforts to hush allegations from a former Playboy model about an affair with Trump.

He also paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels to silence her own claims of an alleged one-night stand with Trump in 2006, just before the election.

Talk of a plea deal comes days after The New York Times reported that Cohen is also under investigation for potential tax and bank fraud, possibly exceeding $20 million via loans obtained by the taxi medallion business he owns with his family.

AFP