Charges coming? Cohen not likely to be charged, attorney says

UPDATE: The president’s chief operating officer is not expected to be charged, his attorney said Saturday evening.

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been cooperating with federal investigators in New York, but that cooperation has yet to result in any charges being filed, according to a person familiar with the matter.

That development was reported earlier by the New York Times, which cited a person briefed on the investigation.

Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney and fixer, turned himself in Friday afternoon and pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to eight felony counts related to his attempts to cover up Trump’s business dealings in Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Cohen, who admitted that he directed a false statement to Congress that Trump had never pursued a building deal in Moscow during the campaign, also said Trump directed him to pay $130,000 to the porn actress, Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence.

In exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors dropped the counts against Cohen, formerly a New York City real estate developer who became Trump’s personal lawyer in 2007, that had grown far more serious. That count, for tax evasion related to the Trump Organization, involved making a false statement to a bank. The charge of making a false statement to Congress and another count, of threatening a reporter, were dropped without explanation.

Prosecutors were holding off on announcing any charges against Cohen for now to encourage him to cooperate more fully and would later make the appropriate announcement if they did, according to the person.

Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to profess his faith in Cohen and portray him as a willing and honorable cooperator.

“Attorney Client privilege is dead!” Trump wrote. “I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!”

Trump, who has not been charged with any crime, has described Cohen as “weak” and “vicious.”

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ attorney, tweeted: “To make matters worse, there was a leak to the press stating that Paul Manafort would be charged today. Why the hell did he do that?”

Avenatti, who has been trying to gain a fuller understanding of what the Trump organization knew about a Trump Tower Moscow project, tweeted that his client never received any money from the Trump Organization and said she spent “all of her own money” on her legal bills.

Asked whether he is concerned that a tax evasion case against Cohen could taint Mueller’s investigation, Avenatti declined to comment.

He said: “The Trump DOJ is actively working to get Mueller’s investigation discredited, just as the Russia investigation is. Mueller’s investigation will continue and hopefully come to a successful conclusion. We will continue our work to expose the crimes by the Trump campaign and the Russia investigation.”

People familiar with Mueller’s investigation said Friday night that Cohen’s guilty plea provided evidence that Cohen’s work in the matter was more significant than previously thought. They were previously unaware of the underlying Russia contacts Cohen was attempting to cover up and had said that although prosecutors had previously expressed interest in information related to these contacts, they had never previously tied them to Cohen.

Mueller has the authority to write a report summarizing the results of his investigation, but his office has indicated to the White House that the report would remain under wraps until the end of the investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The New York Times reported Saturday that prosecutors in Manhattan are awaiting word from Mueller whether he will file any charges related to Cohen.

Bloomberg contributed to this story.

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