Ex-Trump lawyer to ‘spill all’ – and would reject pardon


Donald Trump’s former lawyer is “more than happy” to tell the special counsel looking into collusion with Russia everything he knows about the president, his legal team has said.

Michael Cohen has admitted paying hush money to a porn actress and a model to influence the 2016 US election campaign.

He told a court on Tuesday that he did so at the direction of his “candidate”.

“President Trump committed a criminal act that corrupted our democracy,” Lanny Davis, who is representing Cohen, told Good Morning America on Wednesday.

Mr Davis also said his client would reject any pardon offered by the president.

Speaking in a range of television interviews, Mr Davis said the information which may come to light could include whether Mr Trump knew about the hacking of Democratic emails, and knowledge of a possible conspiracy to influence the election by the Russians.

Cohen’s admission about hush money came on one of the bleakest days of Mr Trump’s presidency, with former campaign chair Paul Manafort being found guilty of eight out of 18 charges relating to financial crime.

A source close to the president, talking to Reuters, admitted it had been a “bad day for the home team”.

The source said the legal woes could hurt voter turnout and increase the Republicans’ risk of losing their 23-seat majority in the House of Representatives in November’s congressional elections.

“This hurts our midterm prospects,” they said.

Mr Trump reacted to the day’s events in typical mocking fashion, saying the Manafort case had nothing to do with the alleged 2016 collusion that special counsel Robert Mueller is probing.

He tweeted: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”

The president went on: “Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”

On the case of his former campaign chair’s financial crimes, Mr Trump tweeted: “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal’.

“Such respect for a brave man!”

Mr Cohen was part of Mr Trump's inner circle for many years
Image: Mr Cohen was part of Mr Trump’s inner circle for many years

As he arrived at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, the president told reporters: “It’s a very sad thing that happened, this has nothing to do with Russian collusion.

“He worked for many, many people.

“I must tell you that Paul Manafort is a good man. He was with Ronald Reagan, he was with a lot of different people over the years, and I feel very sad about that.”

During the rally, he asked supporters: “Where is the collusion? Where is it?

“They are still looking for collusion, where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion.”

Norman Eisen, chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former Barack Obama adviser, tweeted: “In a nutshell, today was the worst day of Trump’s life – but only so far…”

Hush money paid 'at direction of Trump' 4:56
Video: Hush money paid ‘at direction of Trump’

Cohen, who was fired in May this year, agreed to plead guilty to one count of wilfully causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

These stem from payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claim to have had affairs with Mr Trump.

Cohen said that he made the payments “at the direction” of a candidate for federal office. Mr Trump was not named in court but the dates and amounts detailed align with payments made to Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal in the months leading up to the presidential election.

Cohen said one payment was made “in co-ordination and at the direction of the candidate for federal office” and another was made “under the direction of the same candidate”.

He added that the money was paid “for the principal purpose of influencing the election”.

What you didn't know about Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who allaegedly had an affair with Donal Trump. 2:01
Video: What you didn’t know about Stormy Daniels

Deputy US attorney for the southern district of New York Robert Khuzami said invoices for the payments were made to Mr Trump’s company.

Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s current lawyer, said the payments had been made to spare the Trump family embarrassment and were separate to the campaign.

Cohen’s plea agreement raises the possibility that he will be required to provide information to special counsel Mr Mueller’s Russia probe.

CNN has reported that Mr Cohen’s plea deal includes prison time for the president’s long-time fixer, with Fox News suggesting he will be handed a three- to five-year jail term.

Meanwhile, the president’s former campaign manager Manafort was convicted of five counts of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to file a report of a foreign bank account in 2012 and two counts of bank fraud.

Paul Manafort's mugshot photo after he was moved to Alexandria detention centre
Image: Paul Manafort’s mugshot photo after he was moved to Alexandria detention centre

Judge Thomas Ellis declared a mistrial on the 10 other charges after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

The jury deliberated for four days before announcing the verdict at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

It is the first trial victory for Mr Mueller’s team.

Judge Ellis has not set a sentencing date and has given prosecutors until 29 August to decide whether to retry Manafort on the deadlocked charges.

The trial is the first of two for Manafort.

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He faces a trial later this year in the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests.

He is also accused of witness tampering in that case.

From – SkyNews