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

A clear reference to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Go Nakamura/ZUMA

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:

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate