WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen was urged by his father Maurice, a Holocaust survivor, to come clean on crimes he committed in service of Donald Trump over the course of a decade, according to a report published on Thursday.
Cohen plead guilty on Tuesday to eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and election law violations committed “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” and “for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” effectively implicating Trump in a conspiracy to break election law. The extraordinary court appearance raised new legal and political challenges for the embattled president.
Trump lashed out against Cohen on Twitter and Fox News, calling him a bad lawyer and a “flipper.” But Maurice Cohen told his son that he did not survive the Nazi genocide to have his family name dragged through the mud by the president, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Cohen’s plea marked a remarkable transformation for a man who once proudly served as Trump’s fixer and consigliere. Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney of 12 years and a veteran of the Trump Organization, told the judge that he had paid hush money to Trump’s alleged mistresses in the late hours of the 2016 race. He may serve jail time for up to five years, to be determined at a December 12 sentencing hearing.
Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin also marked a turning point for him in his views of the president, who he now considers a national security threat.
The Journal also reported on Thursday that David Pecker, chairman and CEO of publishing giant American Media, was granted immunity in Cohen’s case. Pecker is accused of participating in a “catch and kill” scheme with Cohen and Trump to purchase exclusive rights to the stories of Trump’s mistresses, and then declining to ever publish them, for the purposes of silencing the women.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump incorrectly stated that Cohen had pleaded to campaign finance violations that were not actually crimes – and stated that Cohen is only guilty of crossing him.
“Flipping” on a superior, he said, “almost ought to be illegal.”
Cohen referenced his father’s wartime experiences in June when he quit a senior position on the Republican National Committee, citing his opposition to Trump’s immigration policies and invoking the Holocaust experience of his father.
“As the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching,” Cohen wrote at the time. “While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”
JTA contributed to this report.