Michael Cohen Pleads Gulity to 8 Charges

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 charges today in New York.

The Information (charges against him) is here. More interesting is his plea agreement which is available here. [More...]

The plea agreement references a proffer agreement which of course we do not have. But the fact that it exists shows he at least attempted to get a sentencing concession by providing information to the Government. It also appears, as I mention later on, he dodged a RICO (organized crime)charge, at least for now. Another benefit it appears he received is that his wife isn't being charged.

The charges he pleaded guilty to are: five counts of willful tax evasion; one count of making false statements to a bank to influence a credit decision; one count of causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution; and one count of making an excessive personal campaign contribution.

The 5 counts of tax evasion were for 2012 - 2016, during which he failed to report $4.1 million income on which he should have paid $1.4 million in taxes. The false statements to a bank to influence a lending decision relate to the loan for the Stormy Daniels payment-- he failed to disclose more than $14 million in debt when applying for the $500,000 loan.

The first campaign violation count was for causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution (June 2016-October 2016, the National Enquirer payment to Karen McDougal as hush money just prior to the election). The other campaign contribution violation count is for making an excessive personal campaign contribution at the request of a candidate or a campaign (Donald Trump).

In court, during his guilty plea, according to reporters who were there, he agreed he worked in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate to make and arrange hush payments to two women to influence an election. That is pretty astounding. I haven't seen the transcript but if accurate, then he declared under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a federal crime.

A Prosecutor held a press conference after the plea. I watched, here is what he said: Cohen paid to silence two women he thought had information that would hurt the campaign and candidate. He used the word "they" not "he" or "Cohen" in describing the submission of false invoices for reimbursement to the candidate's company. In fact, he said, Cohen provided no legal services for 2017, and the false invoices were simply a means to obtain reimbursement. Cohen engaged in lies and dishonesty over a period of time. It is particularly serious when done by a lawyer. He's going to pay a very serious price.

There is something curious to me in his plea agreement available here. As to crimes for which he will not be further prosecuted, it lists the 8 counts in the Information, and also:

5) making false statements to a financial institution in connection with a credit decision by Sterling National Bank, from at least in or about October 2016, up to an including in or about April, 2018, it being understood that this agreement does not bar the use of such conduct as a predicate act or as the basis for a sentencing enhancement in a subsequent prosecution including, but not limited to, a prosecution pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.

That's the RICO statute (organized crime.) So, is that what they would have charged him with had he not agreed to plead guilty to the other crimes today? If so, than he is getting a sentencing benefit via "charge-bargaining" -- the RICO guidelines would have resulted in a higher sentencing guideline range and the amount of loss for the fraud claims would have been much higher.

Cohen is released on bond and sentencing is set for December 12. His guidelines are estimated by both sides to be between 46 to 63 months. The plea agreement states he can't ask for a departure from the guidelines, but he can request a variance (a lesser, non-guideline sentence.)

< Manafort Guilty on 8 Counts | Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Wife Indicted >
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    And to spell that out further, directing (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 21, 2018 at 09:30:30 PM EST
    another person to commit a federal crime makes you liable for that same crime. It's called "aiding and abetting." So Cohen accused Tr*mp of committing a felony, and the prosecutors agreed.

    Listening to Lanny Davis, Cohen's attorney (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 10:19:45 AM EST
    on NPR this morning made me realize that actually Cohen has implicated candidate Tr*mp in a third federal felony crime (in addition to knowingly aiding and abetting the two campaign finance violations, which are felonies because they involved more than $25,000 each). He also pleaded guilty to facts which if believed (as the prosecutors clearly do, and the judge accepted) also make Tr*mp guilty of conspiracy, which is also a separate federal felony carrying a maximum sentence of five years.

    I have appreciated your analysis in the past (5.00 / 6) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 21, 2018 at 10:38:46 PM EST
    But never more than I do tonight. Thank you Jeralyn.

    I love the image also. I have read/heard the phrasing yes, but not lettered on a red cap. Just something original and refreshing signing on tonight and seeing it, on the blog of a defense attorney.

    MT, that is the nicest comment ever (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 12:07:50 PM EST
    from you and I sincerely appreciate it. Thank you so much!

    After today (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 21, 2018 at 11:55:30 PM EST
    Does anyone who admonished John Brennan the past few days care to rephrase that?

    I am loving (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 08:19:28 AM EST

    The children's book quality court drawings of this famously thuggish multiple felon,  badazz legal bulldog.

    Mikeys Very Bad Day


    I am praying you are right (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 10:40:45 AM EST
    In that Trump goes down before 2020. This is the most hopeful I've felt since the day after the 2016 election.

    That hat is just perfect (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by fishcamp on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 11:21:58 AM EST
    for the guys at the gym.  Even they thought it was funny..

    OT fish (none / 0) (#9)
    by CoralGables on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 03:26:57 PM EST
    but have you picked a preferred candidate for the Gov primary. I'm down to Levine and Graham with a strong lean to Graham. Want to convince me otherwise?

    Well CG I went with Levine. (none / 0) (#24)
    by fishcamp on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 07:01:22 PM EST
    I voted mail in last week and researched everybody and finally went with Levine since he's already wealthy and may not pull any shenanigans. Not much of a criterion.

    If you two care, Armando (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 08:56:47 PM EST
    supports Graham.

    Has the Big Tent been writing anywhere? (none / 0) (#26)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 08:51:46 AM EST
    Have you made a decision re Graham vs (none / 0) (#27)
    by vml68 on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 10:11:07 AM EST
    I knew that Armando was a big Graham supporter and am interested in hearing the opinions of all the other candidates supporters.

    Twitter (none / 0) (#28)
    by CST on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 11:01:04 AM EST

    Constantly. (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 01:58:51 PM EST
    Wish he (none / 0) (#38)
    by MKS on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 06:59:38 PM EST
    would skip the Yankee and Gator nonsense.

    ? John Brennan (2.00 / 1) (#36)
    by thomas rogan on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 06:07:56 PM EST
    In a lot of countries people who worked for the losing government lost their security clearance as a matter of routine policy.  In the US most people keep them but they also have the courtesy to not go on MSNBC as talking heads.  

    So? (5.00 / 5) (#37)
    by Yman on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 06:24:18 PM EST
    What other countries do is irrelevant.  High level intelligence officials in this country don't keep their clearances in order to keep quiet about a malignant, incompetent and likely criminal administration.  They keep them so their expertise can be quickly accessed when needed for the benefit of this country.

    The US has usually been above this pettiness (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 08:42:27 AM EST
    We used to be country over party. John Brennan served Republican and Democrat administrations because he served the American people.

    I have no idea how you square this in the military either where individuals of all party affiliations hold security clearances. I'm certain many Liberals and Independents in uniform would have loved to have been relieved of duty during the Iraq War.

    You know what? On second thought you have a great idea! The next war this country is involved in, anyone who is of an opposing party to the President can just go home. This works for me!


    no, they lived on Fox NOOZ (none / 0) (#43)
    by mm on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 12:37:40 PM EST
    Not sure but (none / 0) (#10)
    by smott on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 03:59:08 PM EST
    Did Cohen actually NEED to implicate Trump?
    The statement from his camp rejecting the notion of a pardon made me think that in fact Cohen had been delaying, hoping for indication from Trump that he would be pardoned....did not get it, then went nuclear in retaliation, and implicated him.
    "Candidate 1"
    Will that fit on a red hat?

    Did he need to? (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 07:07:37 PM EST
    Only if he promised to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    I mean HOW screwed is Trump? (none / 0) (#11)
    by smott on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:01:24 PM EST
    I think a lot.
    Trump can't get at SDNY by firing--his guy is already recused.  SDNY decided to convict Cohen because he was taking too long to negotiate, and now he gets to do it from prison.  He could be pardoned but then loses Fifth Amendment immunity and can be compelled to testify against Trump and re-tried if he doesn't do so truthfully.  
    Trump is SO screwed, yes?

    Yes (none / 0) (#13)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:30:47 PM EST
    I believe he is.

    About above, apparently he (Cohen) did not.  The business about being directed by Trump was not in the charging documents.  

    It's said prosecutors approved of his statement.  This whole thing is starting to look very smartly put together by prosecutors

    Take yesterday.  I believe that was orchestrated entirely for effect.  They wanted a split screen of Manafort and Cohen and they got it.

    Trump is screwed.  And he is beginning to understand that.

    Which btw means the country is, right now, as we speak, in the most dangerous place since at least the Cuban missile crisis.

    What Trump will do cornered should not be underestimated.  We are where we are in large part because of a lack of imagination.  No one could imagine president Trump.  No one can now imagine president Trump launching a first strike.  To change the subject.


    Very true (none / 0) (#22)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 05:47:20 PM EST
    and it's not like the cretins running the white house these days are going to do anything to alter this situation. They were stating they were in "shock" and couldn't process what happened yesterday. Well, all I gotta say is that is what you get from listening only to Fox News and reading Breitbart.

    and (none / 0) (#16)
    by FlJoe on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:38:10 PM EST
    there is always this
    Investigators in New York have subpoenaed President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as part of a probe of the Trump Foundation.
    Now that the Feds have him headed for prison it's NY's turn to work him over. I hope he blows that scam wide open.

    It is not Double Jeopardy but it is time (none / 0) (#44)
    by ding7777 on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 12:38:39 PM EST
    abolition the "dual sovereignty" doctrine when banking, money, or taxes are the crime

    Supreme Court of the US has taken a case (none / 0) (#45)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 04:36:44 PM EST
    that will likely lead to that result this coming Term (i.e., by June 2019).

    You are predicting this SCOTUS (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 05:46:27 PM EST
    w/Kavanaugh will strip state's of the discretion?  How about when the feds pursue charges?

    Yes, I am. With or without Kavanaugh (none / 0) (#47)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 08:35:23 PM EST
    I expect they will hold that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars prosecution in any U.S. jurisdiction, state or federal, following a conviction or acquittal in any U.S. court for the "same offence." "Same offence" has to be defined, of course. I think they will say essentially the same elements, not including elements which only set jurisdiction.

    I wonder (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:29:26 PM EST
    if a once considered non-viable resolution to our national nightmare, a Trump resignation, has become more of  a feasibility.

     The Campaign Finance Violation sets forth a conspiracy between Cohen and the "Company" in Cohen's reimbursement for the $130,000 hush money payment to influence the election (grossed up along with a $60,000 bonus and incidentals to $420,000).

     Cohen was to be reimbursed in $35,000 installments over a year, that began after Trump became president.  The Company and its executives posted reimbursement to legal expenses,and retainer (to be paid from Trust) when there was, in fact, no legal retainer. This would argue for Trump's dreaded in-depth investigation into his House of Cards "Company."

    It may be that Trump could receive an offer he could not turn down....a golden retirement dacha in Crimea for an important signature.

    Surely you jest. (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 03:52:26 PM EST
    Resigning would mean doing the right thing. When, in his entire life has the oompa loompa ever done the right thing?

    More like (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by KeysDan on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 10:10:07 PM EST
    doing the right thing after finding the severed head of his thoroughbred in his bed.

    I have started thinking (none / 0) (#14)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:32:23 PM EST
    That is a more and more likely outcome

    Resignation for certain legal considerations.


    It's not just (none / 0) (#15)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:37:11 PM EST
    The big news of yesterday.  Today (yesterday?) There was a subpoena in the Trump foundation case.

    Now that Cohen has popped, Stormys civil suit will be full steam ahead with a subpoena for Trump.

    There is the embodiments case.


    Emouluments (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:43:25 PM EST
    Of course

    Yes, and (none / 0) (#18)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 04:59:38 PM EST
    as his rallies of the deplorables become less satisfying and rejuvenating, and he detects an erosion (Republican-style chill) of his Congressional support, he will think more about it; right now, he probably can't believe he is being called out for what he has been doing for all his life.   The hubris and ego eclipsed the reality of media coverage and scrutiny of the  office of president.  Never thought it cuts both ways.

    As I'm sure you know (none / 0) (#20)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 05:06:19 PM EST
    Or maybe not.  He is actually saying exactly that.  Railing that he and Manafort and Cohen et al are just "doing what everyone does" and they are being targeted simply because he is president.

    The funny part?  There is truth in that.

    We agreed almost 2 years ago that being elected president could end up being the worst thing that ever happened to Trump.

    Be careful what you wish for.


    And, since (none / 0) (#21)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 05:17:40 PM EST
    the hush money payment was hush, hush, it would be my bet that the campaign people working with
    Cohen were trusted members, as if, family members. And, the "Company" executives approving Cohen's payments, falsely, as legal retainer, the same.

    Sounds like (none / 0) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 05:52:19 PM EST
    a whole lot of people were implicated by Cohen. His family yes, but also the National Enquirer, the executives of the NE meaning at least David Pecker plus campaign officials and that could be Manafort and Kellyanne and others. Omarosa has said all the upper people in the campaign knew all about the payment to Stormy and Karen. They also all knew about the emails.

    Not because he (none / 0) (#42)
    by ding7777 on Fri Aug 24, 2018 at 12:15:26 PM EST
    is President but because he is a horrible President.

    Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 05:02:30 PM EST
    ... is a hero for our times. She's a street-savvy woman who hasn't survived in the adult film industry for as long as she has by being a dainty and demure pushover. Michael Cohen and Trump tried to buy her silence and then bully her, and she pushed back hard by retaining California attorney Michael Avenatti to represent her. Together, they proved Cohen to be Trump's soft underbelly.

    Enquiring minds want to know... (none / 0) (#29)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 12:24:31 PM EST
    Federal prosecutors granted immunity to David Pecker, CEO of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, in the Michael Cohen investigation.

    OMG. That should be (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 12:28:43 PM EST
    illegal, it's so delicious.

    This is not going to end well for the Trumps. (none / 0) (#31)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 12:34:32 PM EST
    And I can't help but think that when they at last realize that the jig is finally up, they'll board Air Force One and Trump One to flee the country and seek asylum elsewhere, Russia perhaps, rather than face arrest and be hauled before the bar of justice.

    I have wondered (none / 0) (#33)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 02:47:51 PM EST
    the same thing myself. What is Trump's plan to stay out of prison? I would guess go to Russia too.

    How about a prison swap (5.00 / 6) (#35)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 23, 2018 at 04:02:13 PM EST
    for Edward Snowden?