Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, is in talks to plead guilty to criminal charges in a deal that would bring an end to a months-long investigation that has riled the President, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The details of the plea are still being negotiated, the sources cautioned, and talks could fall apart. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating Cohen for potential bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. If talks fall apart, federal prosecutors are expected to indict Cohen.
As part of the plea deal under discussion, Cohen is not expected to cooperate with the government, one source said. However, by pleading guilty both Cohen and prosecutors would avoid the spectacle and uncertainty of a trial.
NBC News reported earlier Tuesday on Cohen’s potential plea deal.
If a deal is reached, it could be a significant blow for Trump. Cohen was part of Trump’s inner circle for more than a decade, working as his personal attorney at the Trump Organization and continuing to advise the President after the election. Cohen once said he would take a bullet for Trump, but the relationship between the two men has frayed since an FBI raid in April of Cohen’s office, hotel room and home.
Trump has distanced himself from Cohen, who has told friends he has felt isolated, according to the friends. Last month, Cohen told ABC News his loyalty is to his family and country first, not the President.
On Tuesday morning, Cohen was seen entering his attorney’s office and did not respond to questions. Cohen’s attorneys, Guy Petrillo and Lanny Davis, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the US attorney’s office declined to comment.
The Cohen investigation was referred to the Southern District of New York by special counsel Robert Mueller. If the plea deal does not include cooperation by Cohen, then it is unclear if he would follow through on his previous assertion to friends, according to sources, that he is willing to talk to Mueller.
Prosecutors said in court their investigation is into Cohen’s personal financial dealings. The search warrant authorizing the FBI raid referenced Cohen’s taxi medallion business, the identity of banks that loaned him money and payments made to suppress negative information during the presidential campaign, such as the $130,000 hush money payment Cohen made days before the election to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump nearly a decade ago. Trump has denied an affair.
It’s not clear how any plea deal with Cohen might affect other entities that have been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors as part of the Cohen investigation, including the publisher of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which gave a $150,000 contract during the 2016 election cycle to another woman who alleged an affair with Trump.
Investigators are also examining more than $20 million in loans obtained for Cohen and his family’s taxi companies, The New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
CNN and the Times reported Sunday that investigators were finalizing criminal charges against Cohen and could announce them by the end of the month.
According to the Times, investigators are trying to determine whether Cohen misrepresented the value of his assets to obtain the loans from two financial institutions that have catered to the taxi industry. They are also scrutinizing whether he failed to properly report his income from taxi medallions to the Internal Revenue Service, the Times reported.
CNN previously reported in April that Cohen is under investigation for possible bank and tax fraud, that his taxi medallions are a focus of the investigation, and that one of the banks that made the loans was Sterling National Bank, whose spokesman declined to comment earlier this month about federal scrutiny of the loans. The Times, citing financial records and people with knowledge of the matter, reported that the other financial institution is the Melrose Credit Union.
Prosecutors have been scrutinizing a variety of documents submitted by Cohen to various institutions, including those to the Internal Revenue Service and those to Sterling National Bank, CNN has reported.