Trump ex-lawyer pleads guilty to misleading Congress

Thursday November 29 2018

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, exits federal court, November 29, 2018 in New York City. At the court hearing, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. PHOTO | DREW ANGERER | AFP 

By AFP
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President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a New York court Thursday to misleading Congress over the ongoing Russia investigation.

The 52-year-old exited a Manhattan federal court dressed in a suit on Thursday, ignoring questions from a mob of reporters and got wordlessly into the back of a vehicle before being driven away.

He plead guilty to one count of making false statements relating to a real-estate deal at the roughly hour-long hearing, an official confirmed.

In September, his lawyer said Cohen had been providing "critical information" to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators.

Cohen, once one of Trump's top aides, began talking with the Mueller investigation after he pleaded guilty on August 21 to bank fraud and campaign finance violations in a separate deal with New York prosecutors.

Mueller is investigating whether the Trump election campaign in 2016 colluded with Russian efforts to damage his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and whether Trump has sought to illegally obstruct the investigation.

But the span of the investigation also reportedly encompasses Trump's business dealings, to which Cohen had a front row seat for years as a senior executive in the president's real estate business in New York, the Trump Organization.

Once known as Trump's "pit bull" and right-hand man, Cohen was privy to multi-million-dollar deals and payments to two alleged lovers — whose claims could have potentially sabotaged his boss's 2016 election.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges involving his arrangement of payouts of hush money to those women — widely thought to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — before the 2016 election.

Hanging Trump out to dry, Cohen testified under oath in court that the president directed him to break campaign finance law, while pleading guilty to bank and tax fraud.

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