Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to campaign-finance violations and other charges. According to a new report, Cohen was compelled to turn on Trump after a conversation he had with his father earlier this year, who said he did not survive the Holocaust to have his name "sullied" by Trump.
Cohen’s extraordinary account marks the first time that any Trump associate has gone into open court and implicated Trump himself in a crime, though whether — or when — a president can be prosecuted remains a matter of legal dispute.
Maurice Cohen, a Polish Holocaust survivor, according to the Wall Street Journal urged his son to be honest about Trump, saying that he did not survive the Holocaust for Trump to destroy his family name.
“As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy [are] heart wrenching,” Michael Cohen said in a since-deleted tweet, according to the Journal.
The guilty plea was part of a double dose of bad news for Trump: It came at almost the same moment his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted in Alexandria, Virginia, of eight financial crimes in the first trial to come out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling Russia investigation.
- Trump to Fox News: I Would Consider Manafort Pardon, Impeachment Would Cause Market Collapse
- From Fox News to International Crisis: South Africa Slams Trump's 'White Nationalist' Tweet
In a deal reached with federal prosecutors, Cohen, 51, pleaded guilty to eight counts, including tax evasion. He could get about four to five years in prison if sentenced.
In entering the plea, Cohen did not name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate” to influence the election.
But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the $130,000 paid to Daniels and the $150,000 that went to Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal to buy their silence in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Both women claimed to have had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Cohen, his voice shaky as he answered questions from a federal judge, said one payment was “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” and the other was made “under direction of the same candidate.”