On Tuesday, President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen surrendered to the FBI after reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Cohen is scheduled to appear in court at 4 PM ET today. According to advance reports, he will be charged with multiple counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. The New York Times explains:
For months, prosecutors in New York have been scrutinizing him for those crimes and focusing on his role in helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Women, as in plural; the only woman we know Trump paid off via Cohen thus far was Stormy Daniels.
Given the information at our disposal thus far, Cohen could be pleading guilty to campaign finance violations for one of two reasons: either he gave an in-kind contribution to the campaign by handing cash to Trump’s former lovers in advance of the election without implicating Trump, or he did so and implicated Trump. If the latter, Trump would be exposed to the possibility of a John Edwards-like prosecution; Edwards, you’ll recall, was a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate who had his donors pay off his lover, Rielle Hunter, to keep her quiet during the campaign. He was prosecuted, but the jury hung, and the charges were dropped.
The bigger legal danger for Trump is the possibility that he could be forced to testify by a subpoena in the campaign finance case. If that happens, Trump could open himself up to a perjury charge a la Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones matter.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.