Donald Trump had directed Cohen to pay a porn star and Playboy model with campaign money, Cohen’s lawyer said. With talk of impeachment in the air, lawmakers said Cohen’s plea adds to the “president’s legal jeopardy.”

Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaves New York court house (picture alliance/Zuma Wire/Go Nakamura)

US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges on Tuesday, including two campaign finance violations, after reaching a deal with federal prosecutors.

That same day, his ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of tax evasion and fraud. Both Cohen and Manafort were part of Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 presidential campaign.

How did we get here:

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a probe into Russian collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign, referred Cohen’s case to prosecutors in New York. His case is not formally part of the Russia probe.
  • As part of a plea deal, Cohen admitted to using campaign funds to pay porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for their keeping silent about their relations with Trump.
  • Cohen said “a candidate for federal office” personally directed him to pay the porn star.
  • Cohen’s lawyer, Danny Davis, named Trump as the culprit.

Watch video00:49

Trump: ‘It has nothing to do with Russian collusion’

‘Motivated by family’

DW’s Washington Bureau Chief Alexandra von Nahmen said the decision was likely “motivated by trying to help his family and reach a deal to reduce his jail time.”

What does this mean for Trump?

Adam Schiff, a Democratic lawmaker and House intelligence committee member, said the “factual basis of the plea” could add to the “president’s legal jeopardy.”

Although Trump could be impeached for directing his lawyer to commit a crime, such as violating campaign finance laws, it is unlikely to happen in the coming months.

The House of Representatives has the power to launch impeachment proceedings on the basis of criminal allegations, but it is dominated by Republicans. Trump continues to enjoy wide support from Republican lawmakers in Congress, who have leveraged his message for their campaigns.

However, that could change in November, when the US is set for midterm elections in which all seats in the House will be contested.

‘No wrongdoing’

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is heading the president’s defense in the Russia probe, later said there is “no allegation of any wrongdoing” against the president in the charges brought against Cohen.

Read more: Donald Trump fears ‘perjury trap’ in Russia probe

What happens next?

Cohen is set to be sentenced on December 12, according to initial reports, with bail set at $500,000 (€430,000). Initial reports indicate that he has not agreed to testify in other matters.

The broadcaster CNN reported that Cohen’s plea deal will likely involve 36 to 60 months of jail time for Trump’s once loyal “fixer.”

ls/kms (AP, Reuters)

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.



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