The lawyer of President Trump’s former longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, said after Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies Tuesday that Cohen has been able “to recognize the danger of this particular president” and that he “knows a lot more than we think he knows” to tell special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cohen surrendered Tuesday in the Southern District of New York and pleaded guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to tax fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
Cohen told the judge in court that a $130,000 payment — what porn star Stormy Daniels said Cohen paid her — was made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” and was later repaid by the candidate. Cohen also admitted to arranging a $150,000 payment through American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer, which purchased yet did not publish former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story before the election.
The Daniels payment was charged as an excessive personal contribution and the National Enquirer money was charged as an unlawful corporate contribution, both “for the principle purpose of influencing the election,” Cohen said in court.
The deal means Cohen can expect to spend between four and five years in prison. He’ll also have to pay about $1.5 million in back taxes, according to the plea agreement, and additional restitution as determined by the court. Cohen was released on $500,000 bond and is due to be sentenced Dec. 12. He did not speak with reporters outside the courtroom.
Attorney Lanny Davis, who was a special counsel to President Clinton during his campaign finance investigations and impeachment trial, told CNN that “there is also a liberation in Michael’s voice” since his client decided to plead guilty and “hit the reset button on his life and his previous loyalty” to Trump.
“This is a man with a very big heart, who loves his family, loves his country. And has been unable to speak, because of this cloud after the massive search warrant was executed including even his children’s telephones. Well, now, he is — stepped up to the line and he can now speak again. And he feels liberated,” Davis said.
Davis said Cohen “would be able to provide information useful to the special counsel” but didn’t elaborate on what that information may be. “It pertains to something else that I can’t divulge right now,” he added.
“I liken Mr. Mueller to a silent deadly submarine under the surface, leak-proof with the fuel energized by one thing, facts. Facts. Something that Rudy Giuliani doesn’t think exists, and that Donald Trump literally doesn’t care when he ignores,” he said. “And we’ll see what Mr. Mueller comes up with, but I do believe that Michael Cohen will tell the truth to Rudy Giuliani and will tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
Trump spoke about Cohen for the first time since the guilty pleas on Twitter this morning.
“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” he tweeted.
“Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!” Trump added.
Davis told NPR this morning that if Trump offered a pardon to Cohen his client wouldn’t be interested.
“I know that Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from a man that he considers to be both corrupt and a dangerous person in the oval office,” Davis said, stressing that Cohen “has flatly authorized me to say under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump, who uses the pardon power in a way that no president in American history has ever used a pardon — to relieve people of guilt who committed crimes, who are political cronies of his.”
Davis reiterated that if Cohen, who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump, “tells the truth to the special counsel who talks to him, and I believe he will, he will have topics that in my opinion will be of interest to the special counsel in his Russian investigation and related topics.”