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Cohen arrives on Capitol HIll last September.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Trump attorney Michael Cohen is cutting a deal with federal prosecutors

Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

Michael Cohen, president Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, has reportedly reached a plea deal agreement with federal prosecutors.

The terms of the agreement, first reported by ABC News, are not yet known. MSNBC, citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the matter, also reported that Cohen will plead guilty to federal crimes, including a campaign finance violation. The New York Times is reporting that Cohen’s deal does not include cooperation with other prosecutions. A hearing in the case is scheduled for 4 pm ET at the federal courthouse in New York.

Cohen was reportedly under investigation for his handling of payments to various women who had claimed to have sexual affairs with Trump, and irregularities related to his investment in a New York taxi business.

Cohen was a long-time legal fixer for Trump and his real estate business, and a key campaign adviser during the president’s 2016 campaign. Much to his chagrin, Cohen did not get a job in the White House, and reportedly began looking for other ways of monetizing his relationship with Trump. Investigators looking for Russian meddling in the US election uncovered evidence of Cohen accepting millions of dollars in payments from private corporations seeking access to the White House. He was also the deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until resigning in June.

Cohen has given various explanations for the $130,000 that he paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump. In a financial disclosure form, Trump said he reimbursed Cohen for those costs, though the presidential legal team’s explanation of those payments has shifted wildly. Any hush money payments to Daniels during the campaign may have run afoul of campaign finance laws that govern any “items of value” that are given to a candidate.

The prosecution was brought by attorneys from the Southern District of New York after a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. In April, Cohen’s office was raided by FBI investigators seeking to preserve evidence of Cohen’s work. Now that Cohen has made a deal with prosecutors, however, any information he may share will be available to Mueller’s team.

In July, Cohen released a recording of himself and Trump discussing how to pay off former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Cohen made that recording, and others, without Trump’s knowledge, and is considered to have intimate knowledge of Trump’s complex and potentially illegal financial dealings.

Cohen once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But in July, he told ABC, “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

The special counsel inquiry into Trump’s election has so far has led to eight guilty pleas, two convictions and multiple indictments. A Virginia jury is currently deliberating in the trial of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, on charges of tax evasion and fraud.

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