Michael Cohen Admits He Violated Campaign Finance Laws at Direction of “Candidate”

A clear reference to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Go Nakamura/ZUMA

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and longtime fixer, has pleaded guilty to eight federal charges related to tax and bank fraud and campaign finance laws. Appearing before a federal court in Manhattan Tuesday, Cohen said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office, a clear reference to then-candidate Trump.

The plea agreement with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York would come days after the New York Times reported that Cohen was being investigated for more than $20 million in fraud. 

As Cohen appeared before a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday, Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters that the committee had recently “reengaged” Cohen concerning questions about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign associates.

“We hope that today’s developments and Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement will not preclude his appearance before our committee as needed for our ongoing investigation,” Burr said while reading from a prepared statement.

In April, the FBI raided Cohen’s offices and seized documents related to financial records that revealed a complex money trail showing that a firm with ties to a Russian oligarch had paid Cohen a total of $500,000 starting in January 2017—just as the US intelligence community had definitively concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump.

Other documents seized in the raid were related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump. Trump initially denied the relationship and any knowledge of the payment, only to officially acknowledge reimbursing Cohen on his financial disclosure form weeks later. 

In recent weeks, Cohen, who once claimed he would “take a bullet” for Trump, has publicly signaled that he could be willing to cooperate with federal prosecutors as part of a plea deal.

Listen to Mother Jones DC bureau chief David Corn discuss the consequences of the Paul Manafort conviction and Michael Cohen guilty plea on this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast:

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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