Home FOREIGN Trump directed hush money, says his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen

Trump directed hush money, says his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen

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Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has pleaded guilty in a Manhattan court to violating campaign finance laws.

He said he did so at the direction of “the candidate” for the “principal purpose of influencing [the] election.”

Mr. Cohen’s admission was related to hush money paid to Mr. Trump’s alleged mistresses.

The 51-year-old admitted eight counts, including tax and bank fraud in a plea deal with prosecutors.

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Mr. Cohen said he had been directed by “a candidate for federal office” – presumed to be Mr. Trump himself – to break federal election laws.

The indictment against Mr. Cohen carries up to 65 years in prison.

But his plea deal includes a much more lenient custodial sentence of up to five years and three months, said Judge William Pauley.

Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to:

*      Five counts of tax evasion

*      One count of making false statements to a financial institution

*      One count of wilfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution

*      One count of making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate or campaign.

His sentencing was set for 12 December.

He was released after posting a bail of $500,000 (£390,000).

Reporters in court said Mr. Cohen’s voice quavered as he answered routine questions from the judge.

He was asked whether he had consumed any alcohol or drugs before making his guilty plea.

Mr. Cohen told the judge he had only had a glass of 12-year-old Glenlivet, a single-malt scotch, with dinner the night before.

Speaking to reporters outside court, a prosecutor said Mr. Cohen’s crimes were “particularly significant” because he is a trained lawyer.

Robert Khuzami, the deputy US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “Mr. Cohen disregarded that training, disregarded that tradition and decided that he was above the law, and for that he will pay a very, very serious price.”

Federal investigators have been scrutinising Mr. Cohen’s business activities for months, including a taxi business owned by him and his family.

Mr. Khuzami said Mr. Cohen had failed over the past five years to report income on $1.3m from his taxi business, $100,000 from brokerage commissions, and $200,000 from consultancy fees.

He said Mr. Cohen had provided “sham” invoices to the campaign for legal fees that he allegedly provided last year.

The prosecutor also said Mr. Cohen had sought reimbursement for his “excessive campaign contribution” by submitting the bogus invoices to the campaign.

The plea deal does not necessarily entail that Mr. Cohen is co-operating against the president.

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