President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is under investigation for possible tax fraud, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Cohen has been under intense scrutiny ever since federal agents raided his home and office in April, seizing hundreds of thousands of items to investigate the attorney for potential bank fraud and campaign finance violations. That probe is apparently even wider-ranging than previously reported, with Cohen's taxi medallion business entering as a possible crime scene as well.
Federal authorities are investigating whether Cohen underreported income from his medallion holdings, the Journal reports, as well as whether he improperly obtained loans. The additional risk of a tax fraud sentence could make Cohen more willing to comply with investigators, former federal prosecutors noted. Cohen has renounced his loyalty to Trump, but is not cooperating with federal authorities in the probe. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza
Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, has been called to testify in front of a federal grand jury as part of the criminal investigation into Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
Weisselberg is considered a witness, the Journal says, and it's unknown if he's already appeared before the grand jury. Weisselberg, who once worked for Trump's father, has been described as being very loyal to Trump, and former Trump executives said he also oversaw many of Trump's household expenses and for several years prepared his tax returns.
On Tuesday, Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, released a tape of a conversation Cohen had in 2016 with Trump, which he secretly recorded. Cohen and Trump discussed buying the rights to a former Playboy model's story about an affair she said she had with Trump, and Cohen is heard saying he would set up a company to make the payment. "I've spoken with Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up," Cohen says, but it's not clear if he did ever actually talk to Weisselberg about it; the payment was never made. People with knowledge of the matter told the Journal Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud and campaign-finance violations. Catherine Garcia
Omarosa Manigault Newman is back for another plot line in President Trump's never-ending TV drama.
Federal investigators are interviewing Manigault Newman as they sort out whether Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, violated campaign finance laws when he paid to keep Trump's allegations of extramarital affairs out of the public view, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., paid model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story, in which she says she had an affair with Trump in 2007. Cohen on Tuesday released a recording of him speaking with Trump in 2016 discussing payments to AMI to take control of the hush agreement, but newly uncovered interactions show that Cohen dealt with AMI on many other occasions as well. In one case, Cohen intervened when Manigault Newman threatened to sue AMI over a story on her brother's murder in 2011. Cohen convinced Manigault Newman to drop the lawsuit, in exchange for AMI giving her an editor job at Reality Weekly magazine, the Journal reports.
Cohen denies any wrongdoing, but investigators are taking a deep dive into his interactions with AMI and whether they constituted an unethical alliance. Investigators are reportedly interviewing Manigault Newman to learn more about the relationship between AMI and Trump's legal team, not over any accusations of wrongdoing of her own. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza
On Friday, federal prosecutors were given 12 audio recordings seized from Michael Cohen, a court filing made public Monday states.
Cohen is President Trump's former personal lawyer, whose home, office, and hotel room were raided by FBI agents in April. Originally, the recordings were deemed privileged, but the filing, made in New York's Southern District Court, said "the parties withdrew their designations of 'privileged,'" meaning prosecutors could listen to them as part of their investigation into Cohen, Politico reports.
On Friday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed to The New York Times that Cohen secretly recorded a 2016 conversation with Trump about payments to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump that ended in 2007. He claimed that this was the first time Trump heard about the payments, and said they were never issued. The filing does not say whether prosecutors have any recordings of Trump and Cohen. Catherine Garcia
A few days after Michael Cohen sat down with ABC News and told anchor George Stephanopoulos that his "first loyalty" is to his wife, son, daughter, and country — not, apparently, President Trump anymore — Cohen made a kind of suggestive change to his Twitter bio.
— Emily Jane Fox (@emilyjanefox) July 4, 2018
The stripping of Trump from his Twitter bio may just be Cohen recognizing that he is, in fact, no longer a "personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump." But as CNN's Brooke Baldwin noted Wednesday, this looks an awful lot like Cohen's "official Twitter breakup" with Trump, as Cohen faces serious legal jeopardy from federal prosecutors. You can watch Baldwin's guests weigh in on the implications for Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation below. Peter Weber
Stormy Daniels lawyer 'shocked,' unimpressed after federal prosecutors cancel meeting in Michael Cohen case
Late Sunday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan involved in the Michael Cohen case abruptly canceled a meeting scheduled for Monday with porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. The meeting was to discuss possible grand jury testimony from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, regarding the $130,000 Cohen paid her to stay quiet about the extramarital affair she said she had with President Trump in 2006. Avenatti said the prosecutors scrapped the meeting because it had been reported in the press. "I was shocked at that response," Avenatti said.
"We believe canceling the meeting because the press has now caught wind of it is ridiculous," Avenatti told Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos in an email. "We do not think it was any secret that at some point you were going to meet with my client." He added on Twitter that if the prosecutors "can't handle a few cameras outside their offices," how would "they ever bring any serious criminal charges against Cohen et al., let alone handle a trial, in such a high profile matter? ... We remain willing to cooperate but something isn't right." The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has been investigating Cohen's hush payments among other business transactions.
Avenatti and Daniels have turned over documents in response to a federal subpoena, The Associated Press reports, and Avenatti said Daniels has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for months. For what it's worth — and it may not be worth much at all — Tom Arnold says Cohen is also cooperating with federal prosecutors. You can watch MSNBC's Steve Kornacki run down Arnold's bizarre interviews, as well as the current status of the Cohen investigation, below. Peter Weber
Federal investigators are poised to gain access to an additional one million items that were seized from President Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
New court filings show that investigators are already looking over nearly 300,000 items, and that three of Cohen's seized phones will produce more than one million more, which will be released to federal agencies on Wednesday. Last month, federal agents raided Cohen's office and hotel room, seizing documents and items related to a criminal investigation. Cohen is being probed for potential bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including a potential violation when Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of a hush deal over an alleged affair with Trump.
Barbara Jones, the special master who is reviewing all of the seized documents, said that the new trove of items aren't "privileged or highly personal" in a way that infringes on attorney-client confidentiality. Agents seized items that included private communication between Cohen and the president. Cohen, Trump, and Trump's real estate company will be splitting the bill for Jones' work, which has added up to more than $47,000 for the first six days, the Post reports. Summer Meza
Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, was paid at least $400,000 to arrange a talk between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, BBC reported Wednesday.
Trump and Poroshenko had a brief meet-and-greet at the White House last June, but sources in Kiev told BBC that Ukrainian agents facilitated the meeting with Cohen as part of an effort to establish a "back channel" to Trump. Cohen's role in the arrangement would have legally required him to register as a representative of Ukraine, which he did not do.
Cohen accepted money to fix a meeting between the two leaders that went beyond the brief Oval Office handshake, sources said. Poroshenko reportedly wanted to address allegations against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been charged with a number of crimes related to dealings in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials stopped investigating Manafort soon after the June meeting.
BBC reports that Poroshenko and Trump entered an "understanding" of sorts, with the U.S. selling Ukraine arms, coal, and diesel trains and Poroshenko believing there to be a "non-aggression pact" between the two leaders.