US President Donald Trump Furious As Lawyer Implicates Him In Hush Payments To Porn Stars, Other Federal Crimes

US President Donald Trump Furious As Lawyer Implicates Him In Hush Payments To Porn Stars, Other Federal Crimes
US President Donald Trump Furious As Lawyer Implicates Him In Hush Payments To Porn Stars, Other Federal Crimes

US President Donald Trump Furious As Lawyer Implicates Him In Hush Payments To Porn Stars, Other Federal Crimes

President Donald Trump lashed out at Michael Cohen on Wednesday, warning people to desist from entering into business ties with the lawyer.

Mr Cohen, who has rendered legal services to Mr Trump for over 12 years, pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight federal crimes. Amongst them the allegations that he made hush payments to Stormy Daniels, an American pornstar whose affairs with the president has made regular headlines in recent months.

“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!,” Mr Trump said in a tweet at 1:44 p.m. (Nigerian time.)

The tweet marks a rapid shift in mood for Mr Trump, who had long denied paying prostitutes from campaign finance while expecting Mr Cohen to keep the deal entirely secret from prosecutors.

Mr Cohen, however, flipped against the president in the courtroom on Tuesday, admitting that Mr Trump, while a presidential candidate, directed him to pay the hush funds for which he was later reimbursed.

American prosecutors said Mr Cohen paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

The lawyer also helped secure a $150,000 payment through the National Enquirer tabloid to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had a relationship with Mr Trump some years ago.

Prosecutors found the payments were illegal because they were made by a corporation and also exceeded the maximum permissible donation to a federal candidate.

Mr Cohen was found guilty on other offences bordering on tax evasion, manipulation of bank charges and concealing his income.

Court filings said Mr Cohen “engaged in a scheme to evade income taxes by failing to report more than $4 million in income” between 2012 and 2016.

Prosecutors said he failed to pay $1.3 million in federal taxes. The hidden income came from several sources, but neither Mr Cohen’s account nor the Internal Revenue Service knew of it.

Several other similar payments, running into million of dollars, were also said to have been received by Mr Cohen without proper knowledge of tax authorities and other regulators.

Mr Cohen’s offences could see him spend 65 years behind bars. But Fox News reported on Tuesday that he might be getting only three to five years for entering into a deal with prosecutors.

Mr Cohen’s guilty plea came minutes after a jury found Paul Manafort, a former strong ally of Mr Trump who once served as his campaign chairman during the 2016 elections, guilty of bank fraud and tax fraud.

Mr Manafort was found guilty by a jury in Virginia, following weeks of prosecution by a team that included Uzodinma Asonye, an American lawyer of Nigerian descent. He was said to have worked with foreign agents, including Ukrainians and Russians, to earn illegal payments.

The conviction of Mr Manafort was the first victory for the special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped by the United States Department of Justice to lead the inquiry into possible collusion between Mr Trump’s campaign and some Russians during the 2016 elections.

Mr Trump, who has long held that there was no collusion, was quick to react to Mr Manafort’s conviction yesterday, saying it had nothing to do with the Russian probe.

Still, the president expressed his sadness.

“I feel very sad about that. It doesn’t involve me, but I still feel it is a very sad thing that happened. It has nothing to do with Russian collusion,” Mr Trump told reporters when he arrived for a rally in Virginia Tuesday. “This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do. This is a witch hunt that is a disgrace. It has nothing to do with what they started out looking for Russians involved in the campaign.”

Although the immediate consequences of the convictions of his two allies were not immediately certain, some commentators are speculating that it could be the beginning of Mr Trump’s ouster from power.

Critics are already calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment if he failed to resign in the wake of the convictions, especially as many more are still being expected.

Already there are reports that Mr Cohen’s lawyer recently hinted that strong evidence exists that links Mr Trump to federal crimes and it would form the basis for further negotiations with prosecutors.

Mr Trump is likely to be interviewed by Mr Mueller, but the modalities are still being worked out between the special counsel’s office and the president’s legal team.

Republican lawyers are reluctant to join the calls for Mr Trump’s removal from office after the two crucial convictions Tuesday.

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