Ex-personal lawyer says Trump knew of hush payments

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Trump denied all of it, tweeting that he "never" directed Cohen to break the law and that he is not in violation of campaign finance laws.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, says Trump directed him to arrange hush-money payments to two women during the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Gates, who is awaiting sentencing for crimes related to a financial fraud scheme he executed with Mr. Manafort, has testified that he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement from the fund.

It may well be true that Trump's base wouldn't have abandoned him if they had known Trump slept with porn star Stormy Daniels or former Playboy Playmate Karen MacDougal.

Cohen insists that Trump is a different person now than when he was running his real estate empire in NY and said he believes the pressure of being the president of the United States is "much more than he thought it was going to be".

Here are our take-aways from the case. He tried to cooperate with prosecutors in a bid for leniency, but he wanted to do it on his own terms, declining to discuss many topics. He may end up with a sentence that includes no jail time.

The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee's top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said. The three-year sentence imposed by the judge was a modest reduction from the four to five years recommended under federal guidelines, but still underscored the seriousness of the charges.

As part of his agreement with prosecutors, Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress when he said negotiations that he and other Trump aides held with powerful Russians about a potential real estate project in Moscow had not continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign.

Still, as the sentencing started Wednesday morning, it was unclear which way Judge William H. Pauley III would lean.

Court papers submitted in advance of Cohen's sentencing outline some of the information he provided to Mueller's office. And if it was a prohibited contribution, Trump said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible. It could wind up in one of the criminal cases that are anticipated in the coming months, or in a report Mueller is expected to produce at the conclusion of his inquiry.

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Later that month in a free-wheeling "Fox & Friends" interview, Trump acknowledged that Cohen represented him in the "crazy Stormy Daniels deal". He responded, "Of course", before explaining that the whole goal was to help Trump and his presidential campaign succeed.

Cohen said he didn't even have much to do with that payment, saying the negotiations were "really just between [Trump] and [AMI CEO] David Pecker, and then David Pecker's counsel", saying, "I just reviewed the documents".

Cohen pleaded guilty in NY in August, saying that "Individual-1" (widely identified as Trump) schemed to silence two women about affairs with the Republican candidate before the 2016 election.

In a NY court on Wednesday Cohen lashed out at his former boss.

It doesn't take a genius to gander that Trump is lashing out on Twitter over the investigation because he's very, very concerned about what Mueller may have on him.

In addition to life behind bars, the former Trump confidant is also subject to forfeiture of $500,000, restitution of $1.4 million and fines totaling $100,000.

Trump's tweets also contradict Cohen's receipts.

He said he blamed himself for the conduct that had brought him before the judge. He said the charges were "unrelated to me".

Assistant US Attorney Nicolas Roos said Cohen's crimes showed a "pattern of deceit, brazenness and greed".

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