Donald Trump stood accused of conspiring to commit campaign finance fraud and two of his closest aides faced jail time Tuesday, after court proceedings delivered a legal and political one-two punch to his embattled presidency.
In a drama that played out simultaneously across two US cities, a court found one former aide guilty of eight charges -- and the other pleaded guilty to another eight -- stemming from the federal investigation into the 2016 presidential election.
In New York, Trump’s longtime fixer, the attorney Michael Cohen, admitted to charges that included making illegal campaign contributions.
Cohen detailed how he made pre-election hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both claim to have had affairs with Trump.
But in a sensational twist, Cohen also pointed to the president -- or “individual 1” as a co-conspirator -- alleging that he acted “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” in making those payments.
“I participated in this conduct with the purpose of influencing the election,” a visibly crestfallen Cohen told the judge, his voice trembling at times as he addressed the packed courtroom.
That admission put Trump himself in legal jeopardy. And it raised the prospect that a once-trusted lieutenant is ready to spill secrets, gathered over decades, in exchange for a reduced sentence. ” Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis explained;
“This is Michael fulfilling his promise... to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump. “Today, he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,” the lawyer continued.
- NEW YORK AFP Aug22, 2018