File photos from Reuters
Former personal attorney and "fixer" to the president Michael Cohen, left, and the Trump 2016 election campaign's former chairman, Paul Manafort, right. Cohen negotiated a plea deal to avoid further court proceedings, and Manafort was found guilty on fraud charges in a federal district court trial in Virginia.
Two of President Donald J. Trump’s former staffers, longtime legal “fixer” Michael Cohen, and the chairman of his 2016 election campaign, Paul Manafort, met crucial milestones in court on Tuesday. In a plea deal, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations, representing five counts of tax evasion and one count of making a false statement to a financial institution. He next faces a sentencing hearing Dec. 12. Cohen agreed not to challenge any sentence from 46 to 63 months.
Separately, Manafort was found guilty by a federal district court jury in Virginia of eight of 18 counts, including five counts of filing false tax returns, one count of not filing a required IRS form, and two bank fraud counts.
The New York Times reported Cohen “… made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.” USAToday said the hush money payments went to porn actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied both the affair allegations and the payments.
The Washington Post reported Manafort’s possible prison sentence wasn’t immediately clear, but legal experts said he likely faces more than a decade in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Manafort is also scheduled to stand trial in September in a federal district court in Washington, D.C., on charges involving failure to register as a foreign agent and additional finanicial manipulation allegations. President Trump has attempted to distance himself from Manafort since the federal charges of his Russia connections and financial entanglements. In July 2016, however, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., told The Associated Press, "We couldn't be more happy with the work that he's doing, the way he's tackling these things, the way he's handling the organization of everything going forward." A month later, former Speaker of the House and Trump loyalist Newt Gingrich told Fox New’s Sean Hannity, “Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to get this campaign to where it is right now." Hannity eagerly cited the Gingrich comment on his Twitter account.
The New York Times report on the Cohen plea-bargain agreement is here.
The Reuters report on the Cohen agreement is here.
The USAToday report on the Cohen agreement and hush money payments to two women who claimed affairs with Trump is here.
The New York Times report on the guilty verdicts in Paul Manafort’s tax fraud trial is here.
The ABC News report on the Manafort tax fraud jury findings is here.
The Washington Post report on the Manafort trial verdict and declaration of a mistrial on some of the counts against him is here.
A Business Insider backgrounder on Manafort and his foreign and financial entanglements is here.
The Associated Press report of Donald Trump Jr.’s praise of Manafort, contained in a larger PBS report on Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign, is here.
The Newt Gingrich praise for Paul Manafort, recycled by Fox News host Sean Hannity on his Twitter feed, is here.
The New York Times report on the federal investigation of Cohen’s financial entanglements is here.