Transcript for Michael Cohen pleads guilty to 8 counts, including campaign finance violations
This. Is an ABC news. George Stephanopoulos. Good afternoon we are coming on the air again because Michael Collins president trumps former attorney has just left the courthouse in the southern district of New York in lower Manhattan. After pleading guilty. Two charges of tax evasion bank fraud and most significantly. Campaign finance violations he's facing years in prison. He is relieved will be released on 500000 dollars bottle will also have to contribute about 500000 dollars forfeit 500000 dollars to the government. Facing very serious charges. Unclear going for this is not a cooperation agreement but unclear going for what kind of cooperation he may give to the special counsel Robert Mueller others investigating. The president we're about to hear shortly from the deputy US attorney trying this case whom prosecutors case Robert Khatami but I want to bring in Tommy on this. First because Tom this is very significant these two campaign finance. Violations that Cohen is pleading guilty to. Connected to the payments to care MacDougall alleged to have an affair with present from back in the 2016 campaign also stormy Daniels the porn star. Alleged to have an affair with president from. He is saying. Michael Cohen he said it in open court that he made these payments these illegal payments. In coordination and that the direction of the candidate for pres United States. George that's the bombshell right there that's the headline out of this proceeding that he. You did this quote at the direction of the candidate who spoke with here and looked doable and ask you mention stormy Daniels that well. With an at the direction of the same hated of course talking there about president trump. A wild scene outside a port just now Michael Cohen just left as people were screaming at him at the top of their lungs lock him up. Lock him up cursing at him. As he got it was vehicle a little bit of color from inside court Michael Korda walked any payment to book a side entrance he was protected if you will by the police and you guys came and got inside was wearing a dark suit yellow tie he winked at one reporter he was asked at what points to. Mean guilty if he was under any medication it if by chance that he was intoxicated he said only that he had a drink last night a twelve your Glen Levitt and that's usually not what he does. But it gives you a sense of what was going through his head. He's four days from its 52 Berkeley so definitely a rough week for him. And the Mexican base right now we're it would be learned if I could be 65 years. That's a maximum prison time we know at this point sentencing is December 12 but he did walk out on a 500000 dollar bond. And again really is no mention of cooperation of a cooperation agreement inside that courthouse but that doesn't preclude. His cooperation perhaps with investigators going forward. That's incredibly important point George to right there is no cooperation isn't. Have to walk rate the federal forties but the legal doesn't prevent him from doing that in the future so that very well could happen. K again he's been pleading guilty to eight counts of campaign finance violations tax evasion. And bank fraud want to bring in our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams for more on this a facing some counts having to do this personal business they are again the reeled. News hear those campaign finance. Please illegal corporate contribution excessive campaign contributions at the direction of the candidate for president. Whatever you have to separated out because the ones with regard tax fraud bank fraud that's related to him personally. That's been very different issued a yankees game I was directed to do something but a person it's clearly president Donald trauma. So in any other environment we do very well the next person to be charged here. Like we could be double truck. But because as we talk about many times before it is unlikely that special counsel. Already equals speech to indict a sitting president. He could become a a sort of unindicted co conspirator but but regardless. Michael Cohen is making it very clear that he was directed to do this by the president which actually make the president's. Culpability here it is true. More significant than Michael Cole we simply say I executed. Pointed to order. And ordering Chris Christie as well another former prosecutor gave Chris the question there would be what kind of documents or other evidence. Would the prosecutors be able to show to back up that contention for Michael Collins. Apparently we don't have Chris Chris your knowledge necessary Vega at the White House. To see in this and did these claims from Michael Cohen as he's pleading guilty to campaign finance. Violations run right in the face. Persistent denials we saw from the White House. From president trumps aides of any knowledge of anything having to do with the payments to stormy Daniels or can make you will at least initially. Exactly and they explanations or worse and have been head spinning from the campaign to the White House to the trump legal team. And really this is what put this administration. Facing smack in the middle of a crisis of credibility George initially. Michael Cohen had said that this money came from his personal funds then we all remember that scene on Air Force One where the president denied knowing anything. About the payments to stormy Daniels and manager search spiraled out of control from there where. Rudy Giuliani the president's lawyer admitted that the president in fact did use this money from his personal account to pay Michael Cohen. But he said it was to stop what he called false and extortionist accusations essentially to save his marriage not because he was it'd make any wrongdoing and is claimed that was for the stormy Daniels case the president ultimately did on Twitter acknowledge knowing about the payment that the money came from his own account. To Michael Cohen and he says that this was something it was very common for rich people and celebrities to do. On the Karen McDougal case there have been blanket denials from the very beginning of this campaign where hope picks back then has longtime aide. Deny the president a doing anything wrong knowing anything about. These payments and denying blanket denials about an affair Giuliani just last month tonight trips to stealing anything about this trend that. To see a whole lot of seconds we are now seeing Robert designing the deputy attorney here in New York who's passionate place element name's Robert designing. And the deputy United States attorney for the southern district of New York. The attorney for the United States in this matter. With me is bill Sweeney assistant director in charge of the New York field office of the FBI. And James Robinette. Who is the supervisory agent in charge the New York office of the IRS. Also with the are the prosecutors from the United States attorney's office in the southern district of New York. Who prosecuted the Cohen matter I'm gonna have a brief statement and will not be taking any questions. Today as you heard Michael gaul and pled guilty to eight felony charges. Five of those dealt with the tax evasion for the years 2012. Through 2016. In which he failed to report. Approximately. Four point one million dollars in reported income. Approximately 2.5 of that money. Was strong interest payments from a personal loan but he failed to report approximately one point three million dollars of that money. Was from the operation of his taxi medallion business. Approximately 100000 dollars of that money was from brokerage commissions and over 200000 dollars was from consulting fees. That's over four point three million dollars over five year period. Which translates into a loss to unite states treasury. Of approximately. One point three million dollars. In addition. Can count six. Mr. Cullen pled guilty to making false statements. We'll financial institution in connection in application for a home equity line of credit. In adaptation. He failed to disclose more than fourteen million dollars in debt that he had. And as a result of that concealment. He attained that 500000 dollar. Line of credit which she would not have been entitled to and he been candid and honest. In addition. Mr. Cohen found guilty to two campaign finance charges. One for causing. An unlawful corporate contribution. And a second one for personally making an excessive personal contribution. Both for the purpose of influencing the 2060. Election. In addition. What he did was he works to pay money to silence to women who had information. That he believed to be detrimental to the 2016. Campaign into the candidate and the campaign. In addition mr. Cohen. Sought reimbursement. For that money by submitting import invoices. To the candidates company. Which were untrue and false. They indicated that the reimbursement. Was for services rendered for the year 2017. When in fact those invoices were a sham. He provided no legal services for the year 2017. And it was simply a means to obtain reimbursement. For the unlawful campaign contribution. Couple points I'd like to make first. These are very serious charges that reflect a pattern. Of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time. They're significant in their own rights they are particularly significant. When done by a lawyer. Lawyer who through training and tradition. Understands there. What it means to be a lawyer to engage in honest and fair dealing and adherence to the law. Mr. Cohen disregarded that training disregarded that tradition. And decided that he was above the law and for that he's going to pay a very very serious price. With respect to the campaign finance violations. The campaign finance laws are designed to prevent use of illegal money in elections and they maintain the integrity of those elections. Mr. Cohen. Need guilty pleas. For those campaign violations and those are core violations. And what he did was. He he'd hit these please remind us that is illegal for corporations. To make contributions. Two candidates. And it is illegal to make contributions in excess of the about that congress set for individuals. That is a strong message today and we will not be. We will not fear. A prosecuting. Additional pork corporation finding campaign finance cases. Lastly and perhaps most importantly. This case. Is unique in many ways this witness. The gathering of all of you here today. And in other ways it's unique as well but it really important ways this case is not unlike many cases. But my office the United States attorney's office brain is that the entire Department of Justice brings. And that the law enforcement agencies do as well including the FBI in the IRS's. This case has more in common all those cases. Because they all share the same message. And that message is that. The rule of law applies. And that four. A law enforcement all of whom are gathered here. It is it is our commitment. That we will pursue it vindicate. Those who. Who choose to break the law and vindicate the majority of people. Who live all body of lives. Whom follow honest and fair dealing. And live lives of a lawful behavior. The messages that we are sheer. Prosecutors are here law enforcement is here the Department of Justice is here law enforcement agencies here we are nation of laws. And the essence of this case about his justice and that is an equal playing field for all. Persons in the eyes of the law and that as a lesson that mr. Cohen I'll learn today it is very harsh one for him. Thank you very much. Bringing a statement there for America's army. The deadliest turn it let's your parents are also like to introduce sorry my out my fault I really want to thank. Mr. Sweeney. And Jane dropped out of the FBI the IRS. Any agents who work for them. We do many many cases with them and their determination. And their fair dealing. And their vigor with which they pursue their cases really inspirational. To the prosecutors in my office. I cannot express the gratitude for the hard work. That they did in this case and that is assisting United States attorney's Andrei agrees walled. And nick roots and Rachel may eyman and Tom UK as well as Ed just can't the deputy chief of the public corruption unit. And Russell Capone the chief of the public corruption unit for all of these people. I could go on and on about their many virtues and talents. But the one important thing is they all are satisfied with simply being known as public service prosecutors and law enforcement agents who are doing their job. Thank you very much and. Robert is army deputy US attorney. With a ringing statement there about the rule of law want to bring in a man who stood in the issues as well Chris Christie a former US attorney in New Jersey well of course also former governor. Of New Jersey he said Chris that this case is unique in some ways. But not unlike so many other cases that the US attorney's face every single day and is sending MS is the rule of law. Must stand and is he said very harsh smashes today for Michael Collins. Well really harsh not a short and he's right that the yield yesterday adopted the corporate do we keep you like this every bag but. He also noted that he president of the media there. Because this involves Nell Michael coordinates are publicly that he was directed to do these things by object candidate Donald Trump got presidential. And so is there are gonna come down to a credibility argument George. I'm that I would think they have to prove that the president didn't track to work. Well I don't know that's what I wanted to ask you about because he we know they've we know that the special master and others have gone through thousands and hundreds of thousands of documents here more than a million. Documents we know that there is no. This is this is not a cooperation. Agreement yet we've also seen this bombshell charge from Michael Cohen ad and an admission at the court saying he did this in the direction. The president what does that mean for president trump right now. Well it could of warned we know the normal circumstance because perfect most people. Legal experts who greeted the president consult champion quite a good any kind of charges have not look or perhaps you can look like congress. But what I also suit that you know now we understand but perhaps why Michael Collins and his spoke with putting up actually. Bulky and and our bench early chumps talking about. The setting up of some part the mechanisms are paid. On stormy Daniels and didn't know what significance of actually maybe a Michael Collins Smart I'm sure we'll hear a different story from the present in the White House. But I think that's seek therapy columns and whether or any other tapes becomes kind of significant annual. In this is a critter credibility Casey AA at this point is in the president's case hurt by the fact that. Prior to this he denied any knowledge. Of those payments and then was forced to admit that he knew about them. Certainly Georgia Rick Armitage sprouts not probably not haven't told. The complete truth behind Hornish who thought something that's something that any group of folks. For me in the position of deciding facts of the case often you know are gonna look at it say about the fact it'd be considered. In the end though is the description of Michael Collins are cooperating here and in our cooperative we agree with you Syracuse it's here potentially. And you know you cooking out some significant crowds much more significant crimes until the monetary not George. Our most popular with his own personal conduct and what we're talking about in terms of the campaign finance violations than those are the ones that are really huge markets are. Right they've got and that's what would try to sense final question to Dan Abrams our chief legal analyst. And as well one I guess it won in the open questions I suppose. If both you Chris Christie good it's unlikely if not in a that a present would be indicted would not be in then the question is now well this information go back. To Robert Mueller the information how do you do with president trial. Oh there's no question that it will and the question you have to ask yourself this state Colin if he telling the truth. Why would he make this doc. Why wouldn't implicate himself. In a crime that can add years to resent. It just doesn't make any sense if there's no cooperation agreement. But he sort of getting this enormous benefit by coming clean about. What he's got it from that and I think that that add to the credibility. Of Coleman's plea here in a that the truth as to what happened. Because they're really doesn't he immediately a logical argument on the other side apart from what I'm sure president trump and Rudy Giuliani will say he's just telling the truth. He should have sought his own. He's trying to blame president trump for this is something that he's obviously there's a problem with that is at that a public statement that have now been made by Giuliani and trough. We each day the payments. And you're in a typical position here with regard to credibility. And don't bring back our senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas as well Peter this was given over as I said from Robert Mueller to the southern district of New York notoriously independent. District but they did report this back to the Justice Department before bring Mike Cohen in the court. Today and this in this is something that rob rose inside who is now leaving entire investigation. Was it was informed. Absolutely Jordan Barlow was aware of all this is going on but one very important point here. This case is not potentially over because the targets mentioned that Colin coordinated with other campaign officials. Those people are likely gonna get a call from the FBI a visit from the FBI will there will want to know what they know about this they will seek additional cooperation so this is put this week that. Armed from head that is a critical point not only acted at the direction of the president but also that he coordinated with other members of the campaign unnamed. Members of the campaign finally won go to Cecilia Vega. At the White House we do not hear from the president before he headed to Charleston, West Virginia. As he was leaving the White House no doubt we'll speak out on this tonight. Certainly no doubt about that George this is not been a good day for this president for this white house on the same day that his personal attorney. Pleaded guilty his campaign manager was found guilty and perhaps the conservative web site. The headline on Drudge right now says it all George trumps hell hour that's how this is being described. Charges of hand against his former campaign Jerry gets his former personal attorney both. Paul metaphor convicted today and eight charges of tax evasion and bank fraud. Michael Cohen pleading guilty today. I'm shares of bank fraud and tax evasion and campaign finance violations. Connected to the 2016. Presidential campaign we have a full wrap up tonight we'll listen I would give him here and I'll see you tomorrow. I'm GM and. Ever gonna continue this special report here on ABC news live want to bring in political director. Rick Klein talk again about Michael calling the president's former personal attorney and fixer pleading guilty now to eight. Count of campaign finance violation tax evasion and bank fraud Rick it sounds like the big focus it politically. Is this campaign finance violations the other count seemed to be more personal. And what Colin was doing with his finance that the campaign finance violations seem to potentially tie in the president or tie in the present action because. Colony saying. Trump directed me to do these things and not just that but. The part of the deal also says that one or more campaign officials worked with him be stormy Daniels deals for example so what does this all mean. Politically for the administration the White House that. Is the key point that this is going to get bigger before it gets smaller because we're once you sort implicating the president of the United States campaign officials. That suggest that were closer to the beginning than the end of the story when it regards Michael Coen even though he's pleading guilty to these charges. As a sign any kind of a cooperating agreement this information alone leads an all sorts of different directions and it's telling that it is come home to roost that you've had this moment where it's all come to account because it does suggest that. Wherever things go with Robert Mueller this is a separate probe these answers are going to have to be made. That the comes out to be your credibility question is Governor Christie to suggest that president felt. In a very difficult spot given the now sworn testimony it is guilty plea from his former chief attorney the guy that held the keys to the trump kingdom for a long time. And then marry us cards are deputy political directors also with us scenarios that you know this this coming down just after we learn that. Paul man a fort but from former campaign chair also. Has been found guilty on eight criminal counts what does this mean for the White House and with the president about to speak at this rally. How do you position is politically if your him. On the one hand though bowler conviction. Artists are that the mock invasions banana for a trial. States are really our bowlers work there's the first sob in the what special counsel has been doing. And really I'll win may be a partial but a win for the special counsel. And proof that they're gonna keep gong follower. On the other hand that Kohl wins story. He gets to the president's own legal challenges really a difference there not just let the special council is doing but what the president might be implicated and is now. Directly implicated from Collins respected and and so we're talking about two totally separate cases with the president in the middle and I keep coming back to the fact that we are still. Just under three weeks away from the mid terms where everything here in DC could change because anything that Robert Bob around indicting the president charging the president. Getting that testimony from the president will be political questions that could really be decided. On Capitol Hill. And if Democrats take the house Democrats finally have chairmanships. And can subpoena more members of the White House we're gonna see this go to a totally problem. And wreck on that point you know heading into the election season. The president's reaction to this is incredibly important right now in he has been nothing but unpredictable and sometimes he keeps quiet and makes no comment other times. He comes out swinging what do you expect to see tonight and what do you think his strategy will be going into the easement here. I second the point out about today's news that the special counsel struck out on ten of the eighteen charges not a great batting average of your spinning it from his perspective. Port out of fort faces many years in prison. Other calling news he has already effectively sidelined Michael Cohen questioned his loyalty questions as practices throughout. I don't know that he's likely to attack him tonight we'll see if this. I at this campaign event of this campaign events and a lot more about president how they've been about the candidates he's out to represent but it has been in mind boggling couple of hours that just gets capped off. With a rally and a look now Alitalia in turn to trump supporters are starting to see it from reports of reporters in the room already. It's not like the trial basis gonna give up on it because of this I'd imagine this is going to be called a met with a collective shrug. From that crowd there in West Virginia they're not gonna really care about this news but it does take all broader political hole all across the country as this continues to want full. And because we know that this continues to head in very uncomfortable directions or president Tom. Quite an event a couple of ours is right recliner political director DC thank you ricks and again to recap for you. President trumps former campaign chair Paul man a Ford has been found guilty on eight counts. Tax fraud and bank fraud attacks of Asian bank fraud actions today. And now we're learning that the president's former attorney and fix their Michael Cohen. Has just pled guilty to eight counts attacks of Asian bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Those last set the campaign finance violations could actually type back to not just the president but other campaign official some more to come on this. All as the president himself is getting ready to speak at a rally. In West Virginia we of course we'll have the latest. On all of that for you for now. We are sending out that ABC news live but don't forget to check abcnews.com. And your ABC news app for the latest on all these developments as they continue to come up. Thanks so much for watching everyone have a Great Neck.
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