Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and longtime fixer, is expected to agree to a plea deal with federal prosecutors this afternoon. CNN is reporting that he will plead guilty to multiple counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. The deal will reportedly include jail time and a substantial monetary fine. Update: Cohen has pleaded guilty to counts including tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution, and excessive campaign contribution. And, yes, a few people outside the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan did chant "Lock him up!" [More below.]
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) August 21, 2018
The NY Times reports that the agreement with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women on Trump's behalf "does not include cooperation," though there is some debate between different outlets over that. Cohen once stated that he would “take a bullet” for the president, but has more recently signaled that he’s willing to cooperate with investigators. He also gave a television interview to George Stephanopoulos in which he said his loyalties lie with his "family and country first."
BREAKING: Cohen is either cooperating with federal investigators or he is not cooperating with federal investigators pic.twitter.com/NoHh2u3emA
— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) August 21, 2018
CNN also reports that "Cohen is not expected to cooperate with the government, one source said. However, by pleading guilty both Cohen and prosecutors would avoid the spectacle and uncertainty of a trial."
Investigators have been looking into arrangements Cohen allegedly made to pay off women who said they had affairs with Trump, including Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and whether those payments violated campaign-finance rules.
The FBI raided Cohen's office and residence in April, uncovering materials related to a payment made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims she had an affair with the president. Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, gave CNN a recording of Cohen and Trump discussing a "cash" payment to McDougal two months before the 2016 election.
The NY Times reported recently that federal investigators were also looking into more than $20 million in loans to taxi businesses that Cohen and his family own; it's unclear whether that will be a part of today's plea deal.
The Southern District of New York has stated that Cohen will appear in court Tuesday at 4 p.m., with Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami set to make remarks after the proceeding. For deep dives into Cohen's finances and the murky world of Trump and his associates, check out Trump Inc from WNYC.
And here's a fun throwback tweet from Cohen:
@HillaryClinton when you go to prison for defrauding America and perjury, your room and board will be free!
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) December 20, 2015
Update: According to the NY Times, "He made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress 'at the direction of the candidate,' referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payment was 'for the principal purpose of influencing the election' for president in 2016."
Counts 1-5. Tax evasion 2012-2016
Count 6 false statement to financial institution Feb 2015-April 2016
Count 7 willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution June 2016-Oct. 2016
Count 8 excessive campaign contribution on Oct. 27, 2016
— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 21, 2018
All total up to 65 years in prison, minimum 46-63 months, per advisory sentencing guidelines. Judge has discretion, scheduled review of sentencing report for 12/12/18 at 11am. Cohen free to go on $500k bail, confined to NYC, parts of FL, Chicagoland
— Mike Sacks (@MikeSacksEsq) August 21, 2018
The Wall Street Journal reports, "Prosecutors had threatened Mr. Cohen with an indictment later this week before he agreed to the plea deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. Under the plea deal, Mr. Cohen is expected to plead guilty to tax charges related to several years in which he allegedly didn’t pay more than $1 million in taxes, the person said."
If the plea deal doesn't include a cooperation agreement, can Cohen still cooperate? Yes.
— Joe Palazzolo (@joe_palazzolo) August 21, 2018
I am seldom stunned. But I am.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) August 21, 2018