L'Affaire Cohen
September 11, 2019

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, was recently interviewed by prosecutors from the New York district attorney's office as part of an investigation into how the Trump Organization handled payments made to two women who say they had affairs with Trump, people with knowledge of the matter told CNN on Wednesday.

Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence at a facility in Otisville, New York, after pleading guilty last year to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. Cohen set up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the 2016 presidential election, in order to keep the women quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump. He was reimbursed for the $130,000 he paid Daniels, and last year, prosecutors alleged the Trump Organization considered these fees legal expenses, even though Cohen did not do any actual work for the company in 2017.

This new investigation was launched in August, with federal prosecutors looking into whether the Trump Organization falsified records related to Cohen's reimbursement, CNN reports. Subpoenas have been sent to the Trump Organization and American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer. AMI has admitted it paid McDougal $150,000 in order to keep her story about the alleged affair under wraps. Catherine Garcia

May 20, 2019

During a closed-door hearing earlier this year, President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen told the House Intelligence Committee that Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow instructed him to lie to Congress in 2017 regarding negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, people familiar with his testimony told The Washington Post on Monday.

Cohen launched the Moscow project in September 2015, and told Congress discussions ended in January 2016; he later admitted the negotiations continued into June 2016. Cohen said he lied to help obscure the fact that while Trump was running for president, he was involved in a project with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. He is now in prison for lying to Congress, campaign finance violations, and financial crimes.

During his private testimony, Cohen told lawmakers Sekulow encouraged him to say negotiations ended on Jan. 31, 2016, since the Iowa caucuses were on Feb. 1, the Post reports. Sekulow joined Trump's legal team following the election, and the Post notes it's not clear how much Sekulow actually knew about the Trump Tower Moscow project. Sekulow's attorneys told the Post relying on Cohen's word "defies logic, well-established law, and common sense." House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said his panel is now investigating whether Sekulow or any of Trump's other attorneys "participated in the false testimony" Cohen gave to lawmakers. Catherine Garcia

May 6, 2019

Michael Cohen spent his last weekend of freedom before starting his three-year stint in prison getting a haircut, dining with family and friends, and trying to figure out if he should give a big interview before going away, Vanity Fair reports.

Cohen is President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, who pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion, lying to a bank, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress; the campaign finance violations were connected to Cohen arranging hush money payments for women who said they had affairs with Trump, and he lied to Congress about the extent of negotiations regarding a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Vanity Fair's Emily Jane Fox reports that on Sunday, friends visited Cohen at his home, and he spoke with people who have either been to Otisville Federal Correctional Institution, or know inmates there. "He seemed relaxed, in a way," cable news personality Donny Deutsch told Fox, adding that once Cohen arrived at the prison, it would be "the most peaceful day he will have in years. The fight is over. There are no lawyers to talk to. No reporters to field. The work is done."

Cohen also went through the documents in his case, and spoke with members of the House Judiciary Committee. He was working until the last minute, trying to see if they could ask prosecutors in the Southern District of New York to postpone or shorten his sentence, as long as he kept cooperating with investigators, Fox reports. On Sunday night, Cohen finally planned his media strategy, deciding to make a brief statement before leaving for prison. Standing in front of reporters on Monday morning, Cohen declared that there "still remains much to be told, and I look forward to the day that I can share the truth." Catherine Garcia

April 4, 2019

Michael Cohen's attorneys sent lawmakers a letter on Thursday, letting them know that President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer has more information to offer.

In the letter, Lanny Davis and Michael Monico revealed that Cohen recently found a hard drive with "substantial" files on it, which might be helpful to investigators, CNN reports. In February, Cohen testified in front of lawmakers, accusing Trump of financial fraud. This came two months after he was sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress.

Cohen is scheduled to report to prison on May 6, but Davis and Monico requested that lawmakers intervene and ask the Southern District of New York to postpone his arrival, so he can have time to review the hard drive's files and be "readily accessible and immediately available to provide ongoing assistance to Congress in order for it to fulfill its executive branch oversight responsibilities." His attorneys are also hopeful that by cooperating even further, his sentence will be reduced. Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2019

Michael Cohen will testify publicly before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Feb. 27, Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) announced Wednesday.

Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, was set to appear before the committee on Feb. 7, but pulled out, saying his family was being intimidated and he was worried about their safety. In a statement, Cummings said his committee will "address the president's payoffs, financial disclosures, compliance with campaign finance laws, business practices, and other matters."

Cohen, who will also testify privately in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 28, tweeted that he is "looking forward to the American people hearing my story in my voice!" After pleading guilty to violating campaign finance law, Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison, and earlier Wednesday, a federal judge granted his request to postpone the start of his sentence by 60 days. Catherine Garcia

January 28, 2019

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, will testify privately in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 8.

In a statement released Monday, the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), thanked Cohen for "agreeing to appear voluntarily" before the panel. Cohen, who pleaded guilty in December to lying to Congress about how long discussions went on regarding a Trump Tower project in Moscow, had agreed to publicly testify on Feb. 7 in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. After President Trump appeared on Fox News earlier this month and disparaged Cohen's father-in-law, Cohen said he would not testify, citing safety concerns for his family.

Schiff said in his statement that "efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are tactics we expect from organized crime, not the White House," and demanded the "attacks" on Cohen's family cease immediately.

Cohen's legal adviser, Lanny Davis, also announced Monday that two new lawyers have joined Cohen's team: Barry Spevack and Michael Monico, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Cohen is still in talks with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, prosecutors with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and authorities with New York state. Catherine Garcia

December 7, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office and federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York both filed sentencing memoranda on Friday for President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of financial crimes in August and in November pleaded guilty to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The memo from New York prosecutors requested "a substantial term of imprisonment" for Cohen, adding that pleading guilty "does not make him a hero." Mueller's office gave Cohen more credit, however, stating that he had "taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct" by assisting the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The memo asked his sentence to "give due consideration to the defendant's efforts" to cooperate with the authorities.

You can read the full Southern District of New York memo here, and the memo released by Mueller's office here. Shivani Ishwar

December 7, 2018

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York said in a court filing on Friday that Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, should receive a "substantial" prison sentence.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office additionally filed a memo that said Cohen's "crime was serious, both in terms of the underlying conduct and its effect on multiple government investigations."

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations, and last week, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project. New York prosecutors said Cohen "sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy," and Mueller's team said his sentence "should reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences."

The New York Times reports that Cohen will be sentenced in Manhattan next week in each of his plea deals. He has been cooperating with Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. In the memo from Mueller's office, prosecutors said he "lied to investigators about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance," but "made substantial and significant efforts to remediate his misconduct." While Mueller's office did not recommend a specific amount of prison time, New York prosecutors suggested 51 to 63 months imprisonment may be appropriate. "This range reflects Cohen's extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct," prosecutors wrote. Summer Meza

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