×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty, Says Trump Directed Him to Pay Off Women

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts in federal court on Tuesday, including campaign finance violations related to payments made to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump.

As he was questioned by a judge in the Manhattan courthouse, Cohen did not name Trump but said that the payments were made “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” according to CNN and other outlets.

Robert Khuzami, the deputy U.S. attorney in New York, said that the two campaign finance violations were for causing and unlawful corporate contribution and making an excessive personal contributions. Those had to do with payments made in the waning weeks “to silence two women he believed would be detrimental to the campaign. The women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, claim to have had affairs with Trump in 2006.

Khuzami said that Cohen then sought reimbursement from the Trump Organization, but misrepresented the nature of the expense.

Cohen’s plea agreement includes a substantial fine, and four to five years in prison. His plea agreement did not include cooperation with prosecutors.

The charges for tax evasion and making a false statement related to his family’s taxi business, while another federal count, for giving a false statement to a financial institution, had to do with making false statements about the extent of his debt on an application for a home equity line of credit.

Arriving in Charleston, W. Va., for a rally on Tuesday, Trump did not answer questions about Cohen’s guilty plea. He did address the conviction of Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, who was found guilty on eight of 18 counts of fraud and other crimes related to his political consulting business.

“It doesn’t involve me, but it’s a very sad thing that happened,” Trump said.

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, issued a statement in which he said, “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. 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.”

Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, said on Twitter, that his client “stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Cohen was steadfastly loyal to Trump and known as his fixer until authorities raided his office, home, and hotel room in April. That ignited speculation that federal prosecutors were scrutinizing payments that Cohen set up in the amount of $130,000 to Daniels, an adult film actress, on behalf of Trump in October, 2016.

McDougal, a former Playboy model, claimed that American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer, bought the rights to her story for $150,000 in order to squelch it before the election.  Davis last month released a secret recording that Cohen made of a conversation with Trump in October, 2016, and they are heard discussing making a payment to AMI.

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted that Cohen’s guilty plea “will permit us to have the stay lifted in the civil case & should also permit us to proceed with an expedited deposition of Trump under oath about what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it. We will disclose it all to the public.”

Avenatti also directed a message to Giuliani. “Buckle Up Buttercup. You and your client completely misplayed this…” he wrote.

A month ago, it looked as if Cohen was prepared to reach an agreement in which he would cooperate with federal prosecutors. In news interviews, Giuliani, attacked Cohen as untrustworthy and a liar. Giuliani has insisted that Cohen acted on his own in making the payment to Daniels.

Cohen’s prosecution is being conducted out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York and is separate from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller reportedly referred Cohen’s case to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

As Trump was taking office, Cohen sought to line up clients to exploit his connections to the White House. AT&T and Novartis were among the companies that retained him.

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Burning Image Debate Ad

    ABC Runs Debate Ad Showing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Burning Image

    ABC aired an ad during Thursday’s Democratic debate that depicted a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and likened her politics to those that caused the Cambodian genocide. New Faces GOP funded the ad, which features Elizabeth Heng, a Republican who lost a bid for a Fresno-area congressional seat last year. Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, [...]

  • Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris.

    ABC News' Democratic Debate Lacked Energy and Purpose

    At long last, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on the same stage. And the result was a long and fairly dull evening. After two Democratic Party debate stages in which the field of candidates had been bifurcated — splitting, in both cases, the perceived frontrunners from the establishment and insurgent [...]

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden responds

    Protesters Interrupt Joe Biden During Democratic Debate

    Protesters interrupted presidential candidate Joe Biden during Thursday’s democratic debate. The chants came nearly two and a half hours in as moderator George Stephanopoulos asked the former vice president about any professional setbacks he’s faced and how he recovered from them. “We’re going to clear the protesters,” Stephanopoulos said as the chants began. “We’re sorry.” [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren,

    Dems Debate in Houston: Moderates Push Back on Medicare for All

    The third Democratic debate on Thursday was billed as the first showdown between the top contenders: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden did challenge the liberal senators on health care early in the debate, which was broadcast on ABC. He asked repeatedly how they would pay for their multi-trillion [...]

  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth WarrenSecond 2020

    How to Watch the Third Democratic Primary Debate

    The leading Democratic candidates will once again go head to head tonight in Houston, Tex. for the party’s third debate ahead of the primaries. The anticipated debate, which will include the 10 Democratic candidates currently leading in the polls, will kick off at 8 p.m. ET and will broadcast live on ABC and Univision. ABC [...]

  • Gen Z Climate Activism

    How Generation Z Is Embracing Bold Action in the Face of Climate Crisis

    Of all the dire forecasts she’s heard about the climate crisis, there is one that Arielle Martinez Cohen can’t get out of her mind. The report, from an Australian think tank, projected that if nothing is done, civilization could collapse by 2050. “I will be 49 in that year,” says the 17-year-old activist. “It makes [...]

  • Edward Norton Climate Change

    'Vote the Environment': Edward Norton on How to Be an Effective Climate Activist

    Edward Norton found activism at an early age. He also directs and stars in detective story “Motherless Brooklyn,” opening Nov. 1. Variety caught up with him as he prepared to hit the festival circuit with the adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel. Where did your interest in environmental issues spring from? All of the roots [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content