For 12 years, Michael Cohen referred to himself as “the fixer,” the consigliere, the man who would take a bullet for Donald Trump. But on August 21, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and handyman became the greatest threat to his presidency.
Standing in a federal courthouse pleading guilty to eight felonies and accepting jail time, Cohen said that he, at the direction of and in coordination with “a candidate for federal office,” broke election laws by funneling hush money to two of Trump’s alleged mistresses “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.” By implicating the president in a federal crime executed in the process of pursuing his office, Cohen raised the specter of impeachment just two months ahead of the November midterm elections.
Cohen’s case was farmed out to the Southern District of New York by Robert Mueller III, the special counsel investigating coordination between US persons and the Russian government to influence the 2016 race, after he came across wrongdoing he apparently deemed outside of his scope of inquiry. But Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, says that Cohen has valuable information to share with the special counsel, including insight into whether Trump knew privately ahead of time that Moscow would target the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of Hillary Clinton for cyberattack.
And while the president has challenged his credibility, Cohen – after an FBI raid in April of his home and hotel room – has revealed an extensive record-keeping system that includes surreptitious audio tapes of his former client.
Cohen led Trump’s years-long effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow through the 2016 campaign and allegedly served as an intermediary with Felix Sater, a convicted mob associate with deep Ukrainian ties, to negotiate an end to sanctions on Russia under the emerging Trump administration.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to reengage with Cohen for amendments to his prior testimony.