Timeline: From 'nothing to see here' to Cohen's guilty pleas

Glen Norman
August 24, 2018

"In so doing, he coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature and timing of the payments".

Michael Cohen admitted to a Manhattan court five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of wilfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate or campaign.

"This case is incredibly important to the integrity of the special counsel's investigation going forward", said Jimmy Gurule, a University of Notre Dame law professor and former federal prosecutor.

"We didn't want it [the jury] to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her", she said.

Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud stemming from hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal. White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks denies there had been an affair.

Cooperating could also force the president into a hard position if, as many think, his son Donald Trump Jr. or other family members fall into Mueller's sights. The president has not revealed his thinking but spoke sympathetically throughout the trial of his onetime aide, at one point suggesting he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone. Prosecutors said the goal of the agreement, in which Cohen participated, "was to suppress Woman-1's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election".

"I saw them napping during the trial", Duncan said, citing in particular prosecutors Brandon Van Grack and Greg Andres. Cohen made the payment to Daniels through his own company and then was reimbursed by Trump, he said. In a plea deal, he said that "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" he had kept information that would have been harmful to the candidate and the campaign from becoming public. That admission put Trump himself in legal jeopardy.

"Those involves were a sham", Khuzami said. Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis declined comment.

"Today he (Cohen) stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal goal of influencing an election", Davis said in a statement.

"(U) nlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a fearless man!" he tweeted.

It wasn't the best outcome they could have hoped for - that would have been a straight 18 "guiltys" from the jury and no deadlocked charges. It is unclear if prosecutors will seek to retry the remaining charges.

Cohen's plea follows months of scrutiny from federal investigations and a falling out with the president, for whom he previously said he would "take a bullet". An FBI raid on Cohen's NY office and hotel room in April rattled the president, who has complained publicly about what he felt was government overreach while privately worrying about what material Cohen may have had after working for the Trump Organization for a decade.

New York―Donald Trump stood accused of conspiring to commit campaign finance fraud and two of his closest aides faced jail time Tuesday, after court proceedings delivered a legal and political one-two punch to his embattled presidency. Cohen has hardly been a pillar of veracity, and his deep legal jeopardy further challenges his credibility.

Beyond the testimony, prosecutors used emails and other documents to try to prove that Manafort concealed from the IRS, in offshore accounts, millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting feeds.

They described the president as somber but calm and added that he said nothing critical about Cohen or Manafort.

Cohen pleaded guilty to those allegations Tuesday afternoon.

Moscow has denied interfering in the 2016 election and Trump has said there was no collusion.

"Buckle Up Buttercup", he wrote.

Trump has insisted that he only found out about the payments after they were made, despite the release of a September 2016 taped conversation in which Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing a deal to pay McDougal for her story of a 2006 affair she says she had with Trump.

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