In a setback to Trump, Cohen pleads guilty, Manafort convicted

Tanya Cunningham
August 24, 2018

Cohen also questioned Trump's loyalty to the USA and saw him as unfit to hold office, his attorney, Lanny Davis, said in a round of television interviews.

Writing on the Lawfare blog, former White House counsel Bob Bauer argued that the Cohen campaign-finance plea will resonate "unmistakably" with Mueller's investigation, "which also concerns what a candidate is prepared to do to win an election and then cover his tracks".

"I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal goal of influencing the [2016] election", Cohen said.

If evidence of alleged crimes is found, the matter could be referred to prosecutors, who could pursue criminal charges and seek the release of Trump's tax returns. Cohen had long professed his loyalty to the president, even once famously declaring that he would take a bullet for him.

In exactly a week, Manafort will be back in court in Virginia to be sentenced.

Earlier in the morning, Trump broke his silence on the guilty plea by Cohen, writing his a wisecracking tweet that he would not recommend hiring him as a lawyer.

Levin argued that the campaign violations are not necessarily illegal acts just because they affected a campaign.

"As the President has said, we've stated many times, he did nothing wrong". Manafort is the only one who didn't take a plea deal, and a big unanswered question is: Why?

"It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr Cohen's actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time", attorney Rudy Giuliani said.

Cohen's accusation increases political pressure for Trump ahead of November's congressional elections where Democrats are trying to regain control of the House of Representatives and Senate. David Kris, a former assistant attorney general for national security, tweeted Rule 35 (b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which allows a judge to reduce a sentence within one year of sentencing if the government files a motion saying that the defendant "provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person".

Davis has said he believes Cohen had information that would be of interest to Mueller, and in his interview with MSNBC on Wednesday suggested that it was directly tied to Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

If Donald Trump ever wants to retain the legal services of Michael Cohen again for some reason, he's going to have to wait several years.

The president has repeatedly voiced frustration that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been unwilling to intervene into investigations into Trump and his allies, including the ongoing special counsel probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation.

Michael Cohen's transformation from loyal retainer promising to take a bullet for Donald Trump to Judas spotlights the strong arm of the U.S. law and how determined the president's former attorney is to limit his time in prison.

Trump went on to compare Cohen unfavorably with his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was convicted on eight federal counts of tax and bank fraud the same afternoon Cohen pleaded guilty.

And he sought to discredit Cohen - contrasting his actions with those of Manafort, whom he called "such a courageous man".

Days before the verdict, Trump commented on Manafort's trial, telling reporters he thought the situation was "very sad".

Updates with Trump praising Manafort, aattacking Cohen on Twitter in last two paragraphs. "So that is the functional equivalent of the word 'cooperate.' I don't know why ... they didn't use the word", Davis said.

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