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News > U.S.

Trump Made Illegal Hush Payments, US Prosecutors Find

  • Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen is expected to get a substantial prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress.

    Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen is expected to get a substantial prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 December 2018

The U.S. President is involved in multiple investigations on possible collusion during his campaign and illegal business dealings since he took office.

United States President Donald Trump directed his personal lawyer to make illegal hush payments to two women ahead of the 2016 election, federal prosecutors said Friday. Prosecutors also detailed an attempt by a Russian individual to assist the Trump campaign, which was previously unknown.

Trump Organization Showered in Subpoenas in Emolument Lawsuit

In court filings, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and New York prosecutors argued that Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, deserved prison sentences.

Last month Mueller voided Manafort's plea agreement because he was found to be telling "multiple discernible lies" while Cohen admitted to lying to congressional investigators last week. U.S. District Judge William Pauley will decide Cohen's sentence Dec. 12.

By contrast, Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, may not see any prison time as he has provided "substantial" cooperation with an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Trump's campaign team and the Russian government, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said Tuesday.

Mueller's office asked a federal judge not to sentence him to prison, citing 19 interviews Flynn had provided.

The documents in Manafort’s and Cohen’s cases confirmed suspicions of the president’s involvement in campaign finance violation, legal experts said.

"In total, the prosecutors seem to be saying the president was more aware than he has claimed to be," former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin said.

In a guilty plea in August, Cohen implicated the president in the hush payments to two women -- adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Friday’s court filings stated that Cohen had issued the payments in "coordination with and the direction of" President Trump.

Democrats have called for steps to protect Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.

"These legal documents outline serious and criminal wrongdoing, including felony violations of campaign finance laws at the direction of President Trump," Senator Diane Feinstein said.

Trump has denied any collusion, and continues to accuse Mueller's prosecutors of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and his business dealings. The Russian government has denied interfering in the election.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called Cohen a liar and dismissed the filings as insignificant.

"The government's filings in Mr. Cohen's case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known," Sanders said.

In a storm of tweets Friday, Trump accused federal investigators and senior officials of having conflicts of interest without providing evidence to support his claim.

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