Tag Archives: lawyer

Michael Cohen pleads guilty to 8 federal crimes

President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges on Tuesday, including campaign finance violations related to hush money payments he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

What’s more, Cohen admitted that he did so at the direction of Donald Trump, and with the goal of influencing the election.

Cohen pleaded guilty to a total of eight counts, including five counts of tax evasion involving nearly $4 million, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution from June 2016 to October 2016, and one excessive campaign contribution on October 27, 2016.

The last charge — one excessive campaign contribution — is related to a $130,000 hush money payment Cohen arranged to Stormy Daniels to keep her silent about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen wired the $130,000 to Daniels’s lawyers on October 27, 2016.

Cohen has been in deep legal trouble since April 9 — when the FBI raided his residence, office, and a hotel where he was staying and seized several of his electronic devices.

And though Cohen’s conduct has been examined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference with the 2016 election, this indictment is separate from the Mueller investigation.

Several months ago, federal investigators in New York convened a grand jury to investigate Cohen for “criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings” and “finances,” as they put it in a court filing. They also secretly obtained search warrants on several of his email accounts.

This led to the high-profile April 9 raids. At that point, prosecutors were looking for information on Cohen’s hush money payment of $130,000 to Daniels on Trump’s behalf, hush money payments to other women, efforts to suppress negative information about Trump during the 2016 campaign, and information about taxi medallions Cohen owns.

ow Cohen appears to have reached a deal with prosecutors. It’s not quite clear what this might mean for President Trump, now that the man who’s been one of his closest associates for decades may be facing serious legal consequences.

Cohen, who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump, seems to have soured on his old boss as the months wore on. He gave several public signals that he might be willing to cooperate with prosecutors, including releasing a secret recording of himself and Trump discussing a payoff to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. A CNN report also suggested Cohen was considering telling Mueller that Trump had advance knowledge of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting where Russians offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — something the president has repeatedly denied.

Cohen’s plea agreement doesn’t call for cooperation with prosecutors, including those on Mueller’s team. But Cohen’s revelations in court certainly deal a blow to the president, and Trump is clearly listed as “Individual 1” in the charging documents.

“There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen,” Rudy Guiliani, Trump’s attorney, told the New York Times.

But it’s not good news either. Cohen is the latest member of Trump’s inner circle charged with federal crimes, and Cohen’s plea came just as a jury returned a partial guilty verdict in the trial of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

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Adult film actress Stormy Daniels files defamation lawsuit against President Trump

The porn actress alleging she had an an affair with President Donald Trump is escalating her legal fight by suing the president for defamation.

Stormy Daniels filed the complaint in federal court in New York on Monday. At issue is a tweet Trump made in which he dismissed a composite sketch that Daniels says depicted a man who threatened her in 2011 to stay quiet about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

In the tweet earlier in April, Trump said: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

The filing says the tweet was “false and defamatory,” arguing that Trump was speaking about Daniels and that he “knew that his false, disparaging statement would be read by people around the world, as well as widely reported.” It also says Daniels has been “exposed to death threats and other threats of physical violence.”

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. Her attorney Michael Avenatti said Monday, “We intend on teaching Mr. Trump that you cannot simply make things up about someone and disseminate them without serious consequences.”

The lawsuit is the latest legal move from Daniels, who already is suing to be released from a non-disclosure deal she agreed to days before the 2016 election in exchange for $130,000. The payment was made by the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. That civil lawsuit was delayed in federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, with the judge citing a criminal investigation that Cohen is facing.

Cohen asked for a delay after FBI agents raided his home and office several weeks ago. The FBI was seeking records about the nondisclosure agreement. Cohen’s attorney said in court last week that because the criminal investigation overlaps with issues in the lawsuit, his client’s right against self-incrimination could be adversely impacted because he won’t be able to respond and defend himself.

Aided by her hard-charging attorney, Michael Avenatti, Daniels has aggressively sought to keep her case in the public eye. Several weeks ago, she revealed a sketch on ABC’s “The View” that she said depicts the man who warned her in 2011 to stay quiet about a 2006 tryst with Trump.

Trump faced a number of allegations about his sexual exploits long before he ran for president. The White House says Trump did not have a sexual encounter with Daniels, and the president has denied the other allegations as well.

Trump is also facing a New York defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice.” Zervos has accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact in 2007 and sued him after he dismissed the claims as made up. A judge ruled that lawsuit can move forward.

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SEARCHED AND SEIZED: F.B.I. AGENTS RAID MICHAEL COHEN’S NEW YORK HOTEL

The paparazzi lingering outside the Loews Regency on Park Avenue, hoping to get a photo of U.F.C. fighter Conor McGregor, appeared not to notice the stream of F.B.I. agents that entered the New York hotel early Monday morning, as they made their way up to the room where the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been staying.

A handful of them remained upstairs for several hours, according to a source familiar with the situation. “Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, said in a statement. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Downstairs, hotel jazz blared on speakers, as women with Louis Vuitton totes and men in Gucci loafers and gold-button blazers checked in and out, while kids in Yeezys and fur-trimmed puffer coats chased each other around the lobby. A woman who looked awfully like Caroline Kennedy made a quick pass through the restaurant, and hotel security seemed to arrange a way for a guest, perhaps McGregor, to make an exit through a side door without being spotted.

The cheery hotel scene belied what has become a growing legal headache for Cohen, as Mueller’s Russia probe has expanded to include inquiries into the Trump Organization’s business records and foreign dealings, including in Russia. Last week, McClatchy reported that the special counsel’s investigators showed up with subpoenas to the home of an associate of the Trump Organization, compelling sworn testimony and electronic records. The report indicated that investigators were interesting in interactions involving Cohen.

Later Monday, The Washington Post reported that Cohen is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. Cohen’s home and Manhattan office were also raided.

Cohen’s lawyer called the tactics “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” and said the documents seized concerned protected attorney-client communications. “These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”

In brief comments to the White House press pool Monday afternoon, Donald Trump railed against the treatment of his personal attorney, calling the raid “a disgraceful situation” and repeating his assertion that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt. “It’s an attack on our country . . . what we all stand for.”

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on Monday, as did the F.B.I.’s New York office. Cohen’s cell phone, which is typically ringing off the hook, went straight to voice mail all day on Monday. The New York Times separately reported that the warrant was related to payments Cohen made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, among other issues.

Cohen, a loyal fixer for the Trump Organization and longtime personal friend of the Trump family, has been a person of interest in the Mueller probe since 2016, when his name surfaced in the Trump-Russia dossier compiled by Christopher Steele—a controversial opposition-research document that included claims that Cohen had traveled to Prague to meet with Russian operatives to “clean up the mess.” (Cohen has told me repeatedly that he has never been to Prague, and that the claims in the dossier are untrue; he filed a defamation suit earlier this year against Fusion GPS, which commissioned the dossier, and BuzzFeed, which published it, seeking $100 million in damages.) Last year, it was reported that Cohen had been working on a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, which did not materialize. In September, he was questioned by congressional committees over the course of two days as part of their investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

More recently, Cohen’s relationship with the president has become headline news because of the payment he made to Daniels 11 days before the 2016 election. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that a shell company set up by Cohen had paid Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement barring her from discussing her allegation of a 2006 affair with Trump. Her attorney has since filed a lawsuit claiming that the agreement is void because Trump did not sign it; attorneys for Cohen have filed their own suit attempting to bring the matter into arbitration. Trump, who has denied the affair through spokespeople, said aboard Air Force One on Thursday that he did not know about the agreement—a contention Cohen has repeatedly made as well. While ethics experts have suggested that the payment could represent an illegal campaign contribution if it were deemed to have been made for electoral purposes, Cohen has repeatedly told me that the payment came out of his own pocket and that it had nothing to do with the election. “What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients,” Cohen told me last month. “I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family—more than just as an employee and an attorney.”

The arrival of F.B.I. agents at the Regency marks another dramatic escalation of the Mueller probe. While Trump’s allies have dismissed many of the people in the special counsel’s crosshairs as low-level campaign officials, or waved away the charges against Paul Manafort as unrelated to Trump, Cohen is inextricably and emotionally linked to the Trump family. He worked in Trump Tower every day, and still remains one of Trump’s personal attorneys, though he left the Trump Organization around the presidential inauguration. Last summer, he told me he would “take a bullet for the president.”

For months after Mueller’s appointment, Trump and Cohen did not speak regularly, at the advice of counsel, but earlier this year, they started to communicate more. He has had dinner twice at Mar-a-Lago in recent months, including a meeting with Trump on the eve of Stormy Daniels’s sit-down on 60 Minutes.

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Trump Is About to Get a Dose of Due Process From Summer Zervos

After aide Rob Porter departed the White House amid accusations he had physically abused two ex-wives, President Trump tweeted a question: “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Well, Trump is about to get a dose of it.

On Tuesday, a Manhattan judge dismissed Trump’s effort to deny due process for Summer Zervos, ruling she can go ahead with Case 150522/2017. That is the suit in which Zervos charges Trump defamed her by calling her a liar. She was one of more than a dozen women who accused him of groping and or kissing them.

Trump had sought through his lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, to block the suit, arguing in December that a sitting president cannot be sued in state court. Kasowitz further argued that Trump was too busy leading the free world, and that Trump’s remarks were “political speech” covered by the First Amendment.

In an uncommonly clear 18-page ruling three months in careful making, Judge Jennifer Schechter rejected all that. She offered a simple principle that is a pillar of America’s true greatness.

“No one is above the law,” Schechter wrote.

She cited Clinton v. Jones, the Supreme Court decision allowing Paula Jones to proceed with a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against then-President Bill Clinton.

“The President of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts,” Schechter wrote in summarizing the Supreme Court ruling.

She concluded, “In the end, there is absolutely no authority for dismissing or staying civil action related purely to unofficial conduct because defendant is President of the United States.”

The case will go ahead, and Trump may find himself being deposed under oath about Zervos’ allegations of sexual assault. That puts the Zervos case in a whole other league than the Stormy Daniels scandal, which involves only consensual sex with a woman who took money not to talk and now wants to talk.

And Zervos cannot be bought off. She is only seeking $2,914 in damages, so she is not after a monetary settlement. She wants either an admission or a jury verdict.

In her ruling on Zervos v. Trump, Schechter found further legal grounds for Zervos’ particular suit by citing a New York State Court of Appeals case which held that a college basketball coach was liable for branding two players money-hungry liars for accusing one of his staff of molesting them.

“In Davis v Boeheim, the Court of Appeals determined that a defamation action could be maintained against a defendant who called individuals claiming to have been victims of sexual abuse liars and stated that he believed that they were motivated by money to go public,” Schechter wrote.

In that case, the plaintiffs did not have to prove they had been molested to establish that they had been defamed. They needed only to show they had not come forward simply seeking personal gain as the coach alleged.

Schechter cites in her decision Trump’s repeated accusations that Zervos and the other women had come forward either seeking fame or at the instigation of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

As the decision notes, Trump tweeted that the allegations were “totally made up nonsense to steal the election.”

The decision further quotes Trump at an October, 2016 rally in Pennsylvania:

“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign, total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

Trump is now the one being sued and the judge notes that Zervos need not prove that he groped her in the hotel room. She need only show that her version was not completely fabricated and that he has no basis for saying she harbored ulterior motives in making the accusations.

“Defendant—the only person other than plaintiff who knows what happened between the two of them—repeatedly accused plaintiff of dishonesty not just in his opinion but as a matter of fact,” the judge notes. “He not only averred that plaintiff told ‘phony stories’ and issued statements that were ‘totally false’ and ‘fiction,’ he insisted that the events ‘never happened’ and that the allegations were ‘100% false [and] made up.’”

One witness or bit of evidence establishing that Zervos was in that hotel room — for instance a receipt that would confirm the claim in her suit that he ordered one very expensive club sandwich for the two of them — and Trump likely loses, no matter what happened there.

Schechter rejects any argument that Trump was just engaging in “political speech” that is protected by the Constitution.

“That defendant’s statements about plaintiff’s veracity were made while he was campaigning to become President of the United States, does not make them any less actionable,” the decision says.

She said, he lied.

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Trump’s Lawyer Paid $130K to Silence Adult Film Star About Sexual Encounter

The Wall Street Journal recently published a report that Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization lawyer at the time and now Trump’s personal lawyer, paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about a sexual encounter with the President.

According to the Journal, Trump paid Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, a month before the presidential election as part of a nondisclosure agreement. This was also around the same time that the now-infamous Access Hollywood “grab them by the p***y” tape was released.

Clifford reportedly told sources interviewed by the Journal that she and Trump had a consensual sexual encounter in 2006, a year after marrying Melania, while in Lake Tahoe.

Michael Cohen denied the encounter happened when speaking to the Wall Street Journal, but he did not comment on the $130,000 payment. He also added, “This is now the second time that you are raising outlandish allegations against my client. You have attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011.”

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Police Put on Leave after Arresting Nurse

A Salt Lake City police officer has been put on paid leave after he was filmed arresting and roughing up a nurse at a hospital for refusing to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient.

Nurse Alex Wubbels said she was frightened when the police officer handcuffed and dragged her screaming from the hospital in July.

After Wubbels and her lawyers released the dramatic footage of the arrest in the state of Utah, prosecutors called for a criminal investigation and Salt Lake City police put Detective Jeff Payne on paid leave on Friday.

In a tweet, the police department said another “employee” who was involved was also on administrative leave pending investigation.

“This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme,” Wubbels said in an interview with The Associated Press news agency. “And nobody stood in his way.”

The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor apologised and changed department policies in line with the guidance Wubbels was following in the July 26 incident.

Wubbels said she adhered to her training and hospital protocols to protect the rights of a patient who could not speak for himself.

The video has gone viral, with many on social media once again raising questions about police brutality in the United States.

Payne wrote in a police report that he grabbed Wubbels and took her outside to avoid causing a “scene” in the emergency room.

He said his boss, a lieutenant whose actions also were being reviewed, told him to arrest Wubbels if she kept interfering.

The detective left Wubbels in a police car for 20 minutes before realising that blood had already been drawn as part of treatment, said her lawyer, Karra Porter. Wubbels was not charged.

The hospital said it is proud of the way Wubbels handled the situation.

The patient was a victim in a car crash and Payne wanted the blood sample to show he had done nothing wrong, according to the officer’s written report.

The patient, William Gray, is a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho, according to the city’s police. They thanked Wubbels for protecting his rights.

Gray is a semi-truck driver and was on the road when a pick-up truck fleeing from authorities slammed into him and his truck burst into flames, police reports say.

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R Kelly Hires Bill Cosby’s Lawyer

R Kelly has reportedly hired Bill Cosby’s lawyer to help him wade through the latest round of sexual assault allegations leveled against him.

Monique Pressley specializes in in civil litigation, crisis management and communications. According to The Daily Mail, she joined Kelly’s legal team following last week’s explosive Buzzfeed report alleging Kelly of holding several women in a sex cult.

Pressley previously represented Cosby in his own sexual assault case before stepping down last August.

It’s unclear whether Kelly is currently under investigation. Consequence of Sound has reached out to various law enforcement officials; the Johns Creek Police Department confirmed a welfare check back in December 2016, but Kelly’s residence was vacant when officers arrived. Other law enforcement officials declined comment.

Written by veteran Chicago journalist Jim DeRogatis, the Buzzfeed article alleges Kelly of brainwashing, grooming, and imprisoning six different women at his homes in both Chicago and Georgia. The story came to light after the family of one woman, 19-year-old Jocelyn Savage, reached out to DeRogatis. Three members of Kelly’s inner circle subsequently corroborated the parents’ allegations. Savage’s parents say their daughter has completely cut off communication with them and they fear she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

In a subsequent interview with TMZ, Savage disputed her parents’ account, saying, “I am totally fine. I’m happy where I’m at. Everything is okay with me.” She said she hasn’t spoke to her parents in “five or six months” due to “everything they’ve been causing, problems in my life, saying [I’m a] hostage and being held against my will.” However, she became flustered and refused to answer TMZ’s questions regarding her whereabouts and whether or not she’s with other people.

For his part, Kelly released a terse, threatening statement through his other attorney, Linda Mensch. “Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him,” the statement reads. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”

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