Manafort found guilty; Cohen enters guilty plea
News broke Tuesday afternoon first that former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud by a jury in Virginia. The decision was made after four days of deliberation.
A short time later, Michael Cohen, a former lawyer and fixer, entered a guilty plea to five counts of tax evasion, falsifying submissions to a bank, and campaign finance violations.
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said that the guilty plea coincides with what his client had said on July 2 in court. Davis has also stated that Cohen has ‘incriminating evidence’ against the president and is prepared to discuss the matter with the court.
“There is no doubt that Donald Trump committed a crime and, more than that, a cover-up of the crime,” Davis said. “Because he did not want to write the check to Stormy Daniels.”
Cohen reportedly told a federal court that he made two payments at the direction of Trump. The first for $150,000 occurred in the summer of 2016 while the second for $130,000 was made in October. Both payments were to Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claim to have had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the hush money allegations on several occasions.
Many media outlets are discussing the possible fallout from the convictions. Some opinion pieces like NPR and the New York Times believe the court decisions could be what puts more indictments in motion for the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian collusion. Davis said Cohen plans to discuss matters with the investigation.
Trump’s current legal representative, Rudy Giuliani, told Reuters that the government’s charges against Cohen present “no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president.”
Trump took to Twitter Wednesday morning, denying any wrongdoing. He also claimed that Manafort was a victim of a double standard, referring to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, which was fined $375,000 for failing to provide proper notice for contributions.
He also blasted Cohen for fabricating information, calling the investigation a “witch hunt.”
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” the tweet said. “’Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
Cohen could have faced up to 65 years in prison but sentencing guidelines suggest he will serve between three and five years. He is set to be sentenced on Dec. 12. Davis has also said that Cohen would refuse to take a pardon from Trump if it were offered.
Leah Williams is a Lead Contributor at theDailyLead.