Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Campaign-Finance and Other Charges

NEW YORK (AP/Reuters) —
Michael Cohen leaves the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Tuesday afternoon. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer,” pleaded guilty Tuesday to campaign-finance violations and other charges.

Under a plea bargain reached with federal prosecutors, Cohen, 51, could get about four to five years in prison at sentencing Dec. 12.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts in all, including tax evasion and making a false statement to a financial institution.

The 51-year-old Cohen said in federal court in New York on Tuesday that he made payments in violation of campaign-finance laws at the direction of a candidate for federal office, without naming Trump.

Cohen’s plea follows months of scrutiny from federal investigations and a falling-out with the president, whom he previously said he would “take a bullet” for.

The FBI raided Cohen’s hotel room, home and office in April and seized more than 4 million items. The search sought bank records and communications with Trump’s campaign.

President Trump ignored questions about Cohen as he boarded Air Force One for a campaign visit to West Virginia.

The president has fumed publicly about what he felt was government overreach, while privately worrying about what material Cohen may have after working for the Trump Organization for a decade. Trump branded the raid “a witch hunt,” an assault on attorney-client privilege and a politically motivated attack by enemies in the FBI.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The team referred the case involving Cohen’s financial dealings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Before the election, Cohen had been a trusted member of the Trump organization, working out of an office in Trump Tower next to one used by his boss.

He raised millions for Trump’s campaign and, after being interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee last year, told Vanity Fair that Trump had no part in the suspected Russian conspiracy to tamper with the election.

The president’s initial support for Cohen after the raid has since degenerated into a public feud, prompting speculation that, to save himself, Cohen might be willing to tell prosecutors some of the secrets he helped President Trump keep.

When Cohen’s team produced a recording he had made of Trump, Trump tweeted: “What kind of lawyer would tape a client? So sad!”

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