By Prarthana Mitra
In an extraordinary admission on Tuesday, the United States President Donald Trump’s long-time personal attorney, fixer and confidant Michael Cohen turned himself in and pleaded guilty to eight different federal crimes, including bank frauds, tax frauds, campaign fund violations and an illegal settlement to silence Stormy Daniels, on the president’s direction. In effect, he confirmed the prosecutors’ case about the Trump Organization’s involvement in reimbursing Cohen for that payment, accepting his invoices that listed it as a legal expense.
A co-conspirator at large
At a federal court in Manhattan, Cohen further admitted to using Trump’s allies (who own the National Enquirer tabloid), to pay off Karen McDoug, another woman Trump had an affair with. Both women were paid to broker silence, just months before the 2016 presidential elections, to protect Trump’s candidacy.
He said to the judge that the hush payments to the women (an adult film actress and a former Playboy playmate) were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” implicating the president in an impeachable federal crime, provided his accounts hold up. “I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” Cohen said.
The news is unexpected because Cohen is famously remembered for saying he’d take a bullet for his old boss, client and the current president of the US. Acknowledging the illegal payments while pleading guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and other charges, Cohen now faces up to 65 years in prison, with no deal in sight as yet. Trump, on the other hand, cannot be indicted as long as he is president but the House can take up articles of impeachment against him, especially after Paul Manafort’s conviction.
If ever there were an impeachable offense, directing your personal attorney to commit crimes to influence an election is it.
— Brian Normoyle (@BrianNormoyle) August 21, 2018
Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman was also found guilty on Tuesday, for bank fraud, tax fraud, and failing to report foreign assets. He had previously been tried by Special Counsel Mueller, under suspicion of colluding with Russia and possible links to the Trump campaign. The eight charges he faces right now could see a sentence of up to 240 years, and even if he is pardoned by the president or his crimes are unrelated to Trump’s presidency, the magnitude of his transgressions will not be ignored so easily. According to Vox, nothing quite like this has happened since John Mitchell’s Watergate convictions after serving as Richard Nixon’s campaign manager in 1972.
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
The events of Tuesday could spell further trouble for the White House, as the possibility of a reduced sentence could be the incentive these two men need, to fill in the missing links in the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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