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How Does Cohen Deal Reflect on Trump?

Michael Cohen just pleaded guilty in federal court to numerous crimes.  On the big question of whether this means he will furnish evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Donald J. Trump to the feds and co-operate with them against him – the answer seems to be no.  That doesn’t mean that he’s out of the woods just yet, however.

Michael Cohen

Mr. Cohen surrendered to the F.B.I. earlier on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. He appeared in United States District Court in Manhattan before Judge William H. Pauley III, where he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.  The tax evasion and bank fraud charges seem to stem from Cohen’s varied taxicab interests, while the campaign finance violations involve his conduct re: Stormy Daniels.

Daniels, an exotic dancer, and pornographic film actress had a one-night stand with Donald Trump in 2006.  She had been trying to sell her story to tabloids on the eve of the presidential election in 2016, when Trump’s then-attorney Cohen agreed to buy her silence for $130,000.  Reports say Cohen told the court today that those payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” (New York Times), and “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” (CNN).

Stormy Daniels

Cohen’s plea agreement does not include a provision that it is entered as part of an agreement to furnish testimony on other cases (i.e., Trump).  He will be sentenced on December 12, 2018.  The plea discusses sentence ranges of between 46 to 63 months and fines of between $20,000 and $1,000,000.   Here, Cohen is simply saying he will not fight the charges levied against him.

That Cohen has said Trump coordinated the payments to Daniels for the purpose of influencing the election, however, does put Trump in the crosshairs for federal election financing crimes.  If Trump paid off Daniels to protect his reputation from his wife, that would not be a crime.  If he did so to influence the votes of his wife, and/or others, that may be a campaign finance law violation.

Micheal Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer and now Democrat presidential hopeful, announced via Twitter that he hopes to see President Trump  forced to testify under oath about the payment to Daniels soon.  She is suing Trump to have their confidentiality agreement declared null and void so that she can sell details about their sexual liaison to the highest bidder:

The developments of today will permit us to have the stay lifted in the civil case & should also permit us to proceed with an expedited deposition of Trump under oath about what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it. We will disclose it all to the public.

Robert Mueller

Avenatti declared that Stormy Daniels would be heralded as a hero in the future for exposing Donald Trump’s attempt to keep his extramarital sexual encounter private.  All gave some; some gave all.

In April of this year, FBI agents executed a search warrant on Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room seizing millions of documents on paper and digital media.  That raid was not authorized to recover evidence against Trump or Russia or to examine collision or illegal skullduggery in the 2016 presidential election.  Instead, the warrant was sought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, not Special Counsel Mueller.  The New York office had been investigating Cohen for months and had previously sought and obtained a warrant to search Cohen’s email accounts.

 

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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